Today the EACB together with the UEAPME and CIBP and with the support of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has organised the 5th European Forum on Co-operative Banks and SMEs.
Co-operative banks finance about one third of European small businesses and the event emphasises their privileged partnership with SMEs at local level. In some countries, like Austria, Italy, Finland, France, Germany and the Netherlands, the market shares of loans to SMEs for co-operative banks ranges between 20% and 45%. In those same markets SMEs represent between 20% and 50% of total client portfolio of co-operative banks.
Co-operative banks have demonstrated their resilience during the crisis. They have continued lending to their SMEs customers maintaining a substantial level of loans (to deposit ratio 120-130% between 2006 and 2011as opposed to 90% for commercial banks, according to a recent study published by the consulting Oliver Wyman).They have accompanied small companies through bad times.
However the context of a bleak economic situation and current banks reform, is bringing about a number of challenges both for co-operative banks and SMEs. Small and medium-sized co-operative banks, while resilient and solid, may suffer from a heavy legislative burden, which does not fit with their basic activities. In this respect the EACB welcomes the warning addressed by the European Economic and Social Committee in their opinion ‘ An action plan to improve access to finance for SMEs ‘ about the unintended effects of Basel 3 on SMEs financing.
In the light of an open and important dialogue with the key EU players, the event included speeches of the head of cabinet of Commissioner Barnier Mr Olivier Guersent, EESC president Staffan Nilsson, the President of UEAPME Ms Gunilla Almgren. Moreover high-level speakers and panellists of the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and key stakeholders in the SMEs Financing, took part in the two roundtables: 1/ ‘Exiting the storm: are we rowing in the same direction?’ and 2/ ‘Co-operative banks and SMEs: what are the real needs?’ The EACB is working closely with the EIB Group and the European Commission to ensure that EU Instruments could effectively be used by co-operative banks for the benefit of SMEs.
For the highlights and messages of the event, please click HERE
For the Opening address of Staffan Nilsson ( President of the EESC) please click HERE.
For more information from the EESC website, please click HERE.
For the pictures of this event, please click HERE.