A top European Central Bank official says the European Union needs to move ahead quickly with a new banking supervisor to deal with its shaky financial system.

Benoit Coeure, who sits on the bank's executive board, said in a speech Monday the new watchdog role for the ECB is "the most urgent component" of bringing bank supervision and bailouts under the control of the European Union.

The idea is to take the financial burden of fixing banks away from national governments so that it doesn't bankrupt them.

Coeure says that the supervisor needs to be in place "as soon as possible in 2013" so the ECB can gear up for its new tasks.

EU officials have proposed a Jan. 1 phase-in, but Germany says it can't be done that quickly.