Mr Haag will be a speaker at the EACB Convention "Co-operative banks: A new deal for more solidarity", on the 27th of October. For more info or to register, please click on the buttons at the bottom of the newsletter.
The new EU Sustainable Finance Strategy will be unveiled in the coming months and is expected to comprise a large number of new regulatory or soft initiatives. Could you anticipate the main important actions that will be developed according to the new strategy in the upcoming months?
We are still in the middle of our preparatory work, and it is too early to speculate about specific initiatives. However, it is evident that the European Union’s objective to become climate-neutral by 2050 and a more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2030 call for an ambitious strategy. These goals suggest that the strategy should be comprehensive and cover a range of issues that had not been included in our 2018 Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth.
In this respect, we received several clear messages from our public consultation. There is a call on us to work with financial markets to mainstream sustainability into corporate decision-making and disclosures. This would enable investors to seize new opportunities in sustainable investment across the entire environmental, social and governance field. Markets and industries also expect us to facilitate a smooth and orderly transition away from activities that harm the climate and environment. And there is a strong expectation that we help investors act on their growing preference for sustainable financial products.
In short, the renewed sustainable finance strategy will be an opportunity to put our financial system on track to reach our 2030 and 2050 targets.
The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak shows the critical need to strengthen the sustainability and resilience of our societies and the importance of integrating social issues and objectives into the broader functioning of our economies. At the same time the focus of legislators at European and Member States’ level was turned to ensure the health of our societies and economies. Do you believe the current situation would affect the ambitions of co-legislators in delivering the sustainable transition?
The European Green Deal remains the blueprint for this transition. The challenge of climate change and environmental degradation has not gone away with the pandemic, and our level of ambition has increased, not decreased. The European Green Deal is our growth strategy, which will help to prevent future environment-related crises, increase our resilience and create economic opportunities.
And sustainability is not just about green factors, but about the social and human dimensions, too. All these aspects are part of a broader effort to better integrate sustainability in our economies. This is why we asked the new platform on sustainable finance to assess whether and how a social taxonomy could address some of the challenges related to the achievement of social objectives.
Due to their proximity to members, co-operative banks are fully aware of the challenges of climate change and they are already multiplying their efforts for a sustainable economy that respects the environment. In your views, which role could cooperative banks play in the implementation of the initiatives that will be introduced by the new EU Strategy on Sustainable Finance?
Co-operative banks can play a crucial role in the transition towards a more sustainable and more resilient economy. Most of them know their clients really well and keep very close and long-term relations with them. This proximity is very precious in the transition. Co-operative banks can raise their clients’ awareness on their specific sustainability challenges and opportunities, and accompany and support them in their projects. The success of the transition towards more sustainability does not depend on public policies alone. We also need each and every citizen, SME, community and financial institution to examine, at their level, what they can do. With their large SME and community customer base co-operative banks are very well placed to support moving our economies in this direction.