27 February 2019

Krautscheid: Strengthen Europe’s constructive forces

  • 2019 European elections: private banks counting on power of persuasion for Europe
  • Brexit remains challenging before and after elections
  • Continue to drive forward European home market

Around three months before the European elections, the private banks reiterate that more, not less, Europe is what’s needed. “We have at the moment a lot of construction sites in and around Europe. This makes it all the more important not to strengthen the demolition companies but those who want to continue building the European project,” said Andreas Krautscheid, the Association of German Banks’ chief executive, in Brussels. Much was at stake in and after the elections at the end of May, Mr Krautscheid continued: the European Parliament’s ability to act, appointment of the European Commission as quickly as possible, competitive regulation, even the European Union’s identity.

Mr Krautscheid: “If destructive forces continue to gain in influence in the European elections, then many important future projects will fall by the wayside, also for us banks and our customers. For, as yet, there is no real single financial market, no European capital market, and no single digital market that can be directly experienced by citizens. These projects require stable majorities of responsible, pro-European forces.” It was clear that, at present, further driving forward a common Europe meant doing a lot of persuading, and the private banks wanted to play their part in this.

For the dramatic Brexit developments showed just how important a common Europe was. “We’re hoping for the best and preparing for the worst,” Mr Krautscheid said. This was the only realistic strategy that banks could adopt and that they had adopted. “Our preparations have been underway for months now”.

The EU and the German government had taken various measures to cushion against a “hard” Brexit. Nevertheless, it was clear that the web of preventive measures at EU and member state level was still patchy and that emergency measures on such important issues as clearing, contractual continuity in existing financial transactions or regulation of trading venues were no substitute for an agreement.

For those wanting to strengthen the constructive forces in Europe, there was, moreover, no way around a real single financial market. “This would be a real growth opportunity for the European economy and European banks in the global power play.” Unfortunately, the European financial services market was still a patchwork, not a cohesive whole governed by a single set of rules. “Those that suffer are businesses and consumers – we need a real European home market,” Mr Krautscheid stressed.

In its booklet “Moving Europe forward – a strong single market for citizens, businesses and banks”, published ahead of the 2019 European elections, the Association of German Banks identified eight areas requiring action by European policymakers. To download this publication, go to: https://en.bankenverband.de/booklets/moving-europe-forward-single-market/

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