Co-operative banks were created more than a century ago to facilitate and support local economic development. Today they play a key role in addressing economic and social challenges in Europe and beyond. With 205 million customers and 81 million co-operative members, the4,200 European co-operative banks focus on people. They form vital networks and serve as catalysts for vibrant communities. The regional co-operative banks are supporting the local entrepreneurs and households in a long-term relationship.
My wish, as the new EACB President, is that by way of their co-operative approach, our banks will continue to play a crucial role in driving economic and social development in Europe. This requires an appropriate legislative and supervisory framework.
We will therefore continue to engage in constructive dialogue with policy makers, standard setters, regulators and stakeholders to ensure that our co-operative model of banking is being well understood and that its particularities, including capital structure, legal form and governance, operating mechanisms of co-operative banks and co-operative networks are recognized and regarded as a valuable source of diversity in the financial sector. In the post-crisis environment and the newly established Banking Union it is of the utmost importance that the regulatory and supervisory framework takes our co-operative model fully into account, allowing co-operative banks to serve the society at large, especially in the area of financing households and SMEs.
In 2015, co-operative banks have welcomed 1.3 million new members (according to the TIAS Study “A snapshot of European Co-operative Banking", 2016): a sign of acceptance and confidence that makes us proud and which underlines the fact that our co-operative model of banking is able to respond to the needs of European citizens and businesses.