Annual report on Europe’s co-op banks highlights work on key policy areas

The EACB says it has carried out advocacy work on issues such as financial stability, digital payments and ESG risks

The European Association of Cooperative Banks (EACB) has published its annual report for 2022, which details its advocacy activities on policy areas including financial stability, digital payments, open finance, ESG risks and non-financial reporting, and retail investment.  

Highlights include a new Cooperative Identity Forum, which looked at developments in the social and solidarity economy and the debate on the co-operative identity led by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), while helping to advocate for co-operative identity and values. As part of this, the EACB organised two webinars on the prospects for the co-operative business model and the challenges in safeguarding the co-operative identity; it also conducted a mini survey of its members to explore and define co-operative benefits.

Through its Accounting & Audit Working Group (AAWG), the EACB says it provided feedback to relevant consultations, such as the EC’s initiative to strengthen the quality of corporate reporting and statutory audit and the International Accounting Standards Board’s Request for Information on IFRS 9 (International Financial Reporting Standards).

The EACB also established a working group on Sustainability Reporting and Audit (SRA WG) in May. This became a platform for exchange between experts on sustainability disclosures, with members actively involved in negotiations with the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group on the draft European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS). European sustainability disclosures should not ignore the most important social aspects for co-operative banks, said the EASB, adding that the SRA WG will “continue to closely follow the work of European and international standard-setters to develop a framework for sustainability reporting and engage in active communication and the advocacy process with various relevant legislative bodies”.

Meanwhile, EACB’s taxation working group (TaxWG) continued its efforts to monitor and support a growing number of EC initiatives in the field of taxation, while establishing a position on international consultations.

The EACB continued its dialogue with the European Parliament and the Council on the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA), the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act. EACB members were involved in drafting a position paper on the Data Act, while the apex’s secretariat responded to the EC’s targeted consultation on open finance and organised a webinar on the topic.

“In the new environment,” said EACB president Berry Marttin said, “marked by the inflationary surge that has been threatening growth, and thus financial stability, as well as societal cohesion in the EU, co-operative banks have stayed true to their mission, supporting their communities and providing financing sources to the public, proving once more to be an anchor for the entire economy to prosper.”

CEO Nina Schindler added: “To effectively demonstrate our clout in the regulatory discourse, our strategy focused on targeted engagement, particularly on the implementation of a high-level advocacy plan, coupled with aligned communication leveraging the key messages underlining co-operative banking concerns to increase visibility.

“I am proud to look back on yet another year of intensive advocacy involvement, which demonstrates what we, as a team, have achieved in pursuit of our association’s goals. Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude to the EACB members and the staff of our secretariat for their valuable contributions to the association’s activities and continued commitment to the EACB’s objectives.”

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