EPFSF Winter Conference 2021: Chairman’s statement

EPFSF Winter Conference 2021: Chairman’s statement. The EPFSF is a nonprofit organization that fosters dialogue between the European Parliament and the financial services industry

The European Parliamentary Financial Services Forum (EPFSF) was founded in 2000 to foster a dialogue between the European Parliament and the financial services industry.

The 2021 Winter Virtual Conference “Shaping the Future of Europe” focused on the kind of economic and financial system Europe seeks to support its citizens on the path to recovery and growth. Speakers made recommendations to assist with the financing needs of European society, strengthening Europe’s financial system and deepening the EU Single Market.

Gian Maria Gros-Pietro, Chairman of Intesa Sanpaolo, commented during a panel on 23 February on ways in which Europe’s financial system can make the Continent more resilient and the important role that banks must play in enabling Europe’s green transition and digital transformation.

Following are extracts from the Chairman’s remarks:

  • Making the EU more resilient, more influential and less dependent on others, while playing a leading role in global economic governance, requires leveraging on the Single Market project and completing it.
  • Banking Union is the first item on the bucket list. An agreement on EDIS (European Deposit Insurance Scheme), to achieve a complete banking union supported by a mutual deposit insurance scheme would also help break the nexus between banks and sovereign debt. The current divergences between national Deposit Guarantee Schemes in terms of funding or availability of national fiscal resources leave an uneven playing field on which banks must play and, ultimately, contribute to market fragmentation. Besides, the lack of common safeguards is hindering banks’ decisions to expand across borders, at the cost of lower efficiency.
  • A more resilient and independent EU needs to strengthen the productive structure and a transition towards a sustainable approach to growth. For ISP – and let me say for the Italian banking system in general – this transition implies greater support to SMEs. They are the engine of innovation and a major source of employment. This holds at the European level too. The EU should implement all the necessary measures to make SMEs more resilient and equipped to face a very competitive international environment. From this perspective, CMU is essential.  The pandemic and Brexit make this even more crucial. The European Commission should continue working on creating an SME IPO Fund to make it easier for small, high-growth companies to raise capital and finance their growth, especially in sectors of strategic importance to the EU.
  • Despite vast amounts of public money deployed by Member States to the economy and the Next Generation EU, these funds will not be sufficient to support the EU priorities related to the green transition and digital transformation unless the financial sector also gives a hand. Banks can play a valuable role by raising funds and mobilizing deposits built up during the lockdowns, channelling them into profitable EU sustainability projects.
  • The Fintech phenomenon is growing and is an opportunity to accelerate the tech transfer that can boost innovation in the financial system. In the last three years, Intesa Sanpaolo has incorporated the services of 30 Fintech/Bigtech groups into its business model, offering its clients the value of benchmark innovations and the benefit of the high-security standards of a big bank. Fintech and Bigtech active in the credit market should be subject to the same requirements that apply to the banking sector, both to protect customers but also to ensure a level playing field.

Download the full contribution to the discussion