WSBI-ESBG Managing Director Peter Simon appointed EBIC Chair

Peter Simon, WSBI-ESBG Managing Director

Brussels, 18 January 2023 – The EBIC announced today that Peter SIMON was appointed as Chair of the European Banking Industry Committee (EBIC) for a two-year mandate. Peter Simon, Managing Director of the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute – European Savings and Retail Banking Group (WSBI-ESBG), succeeds Wim Mijs, CEO of the European Banking Federation (EBF).

Nina Schindler, CEO of the European Association of Co-operative Banks (EACB), was appointed as the EBIC’s Vice-Chair. The overall secretariat, which rotates along with the chair, will be in the hands of the EBF as of today.

The change comes at a busy time for the EBIC with several critical pieces of legislation under negotiation by the co-legislators (CRR3, CRD6, AMLD6, AMLR, TFR, CCD, DMFSD) and the revision of the Crisis Management Framework (BRRD3) and Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD2) still to come.

Mr Simon said: “I look forward to facilitating, together with the secretariat of the EBF, the dialogue between the EBIC members and to ensure, that this platform channels the united views of the industry as efficiently and effectively as possible. I want to thank my predecessor, Wim Mijs and the secretariat of the EACB, for their work in the past two years and in particular for bringing together the EBIC associations on the topic of COVID and its consequence on society and banks.”

Established in 2004, EBIC is committed to giving the EU banking sector a common voice within the context of the Union’s legislative initiatives in finance and banking, maintaining an open and fruitful dialogue with the EU institutions and international bodies. As an advisory committee that is regularly called upon to provide expertise, EBIC is also a forum for the European banking industry’s representatives. Throughout the drafting, adoption, implementation, and enforcement process of financial legislation, EBIC ensures a representative and sound industry contribution toward better regulation across the EU.

Click to access the Press Release

Press contact: Nihan Cevirgen
Communications Manager
nihan.cevirgen@wsbi-esbg.org
Tel. +32 2211 1190

Captions Picture 2: From Left to Right: Nina Schindler, CEO of the European Association of Co-operative Banks | Peter Simon, WSBI-ESBG Managing Director | Wim Mijs, CEO of the European Banking Federation

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WSBI and BTN Collaboration Encourages Global Financial Digitalization and Inclusion

Brussels, 16 December 2022 - World Saving and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI), incollaboration with PT Bank Tabungan Negara (Persero) Tbk (BTN), held the 28th meeting of the WSBI Asia Pacific Regional Meeting. The meeting was held under the theme "Sustainable and Resilient - Savings and Retail Banks in the Post-Pandemic Era". The event was a follow-up to the results of the G20 summit in Denpasar, Bali.

WSBI Managing Director Peter Simon delivered the Paris Declaration to representatives of the Indonesian G20 Presidency. In his speech, Mr Simon insisted on the need for shared solutions to common problems that go beyond geopolitical division. To this end, he reiterated the main points of the Paris Declaration, which calls for harmonizing green taxonomies among jurisdictions following science-based, pragmatic principles. In line with the theme, there were a number of discussion topics at the Regional Meeting, which was held on December 15-16, 2022, in Bali, Indonesia. Among them are digitalization and financial inclusion, sustainability, green finance, innovation, fintech, and payments. These topics were elaborated from different perspectives: business side and regulatory.

WSBI delegation was led by WSBI – ESBG Managing Director, Peter Simon and the meeting saw the participation of many members such as the President Director of
Bank BTN, Haru Koesmahargyo, Shantan Yoosiri Senior Executive Vice President of Government Saving Bank Thailand, and a number of delegates from various countries and banks such as Imagin, CaixaBank, the Sparkassestiftung for International Cooperation, Germany, the Saving Bank of Thailand, Cambodian Bank, Xalk Bank Uzbekistan, Bostwana Savings Bank, Bostwana, the European Union Delegation to ASEAN, the European Investment Bank, European Union. This very intense three-day event was a great chance to concretely discuss best practices and share strategies both from the perspective of regulators and the banking industry. Participants learnt and discussed practical solutions to improve the reliability of green finance product data. Tools and strategies were presented for very advanced banks as well as for institutions catering for the less well-off. The European Investment Bank and the Indonesian Ministry for Housing and Public Works gave a bunch of concrete projects that are being launched in the region where socially responsible banks can play a crucial role while developing their green finance portfolio.

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Media coverage in other languages

Article from : Liputan 6 (The 6 Report), Indonesian flagship television news program broadcasts on SCTV

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Article from: Suara.com, a Indonesian news portal that presents informations from political, business, legal.

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Article from: Media Indonesia is a national newspaper published since January 19, 1970

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ESBG welcomes EU Commission's legislative proposal on instant payments

BRUSSELS, 26 OCTOBER 2022. The European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) welcomes the European Commission’s legislative proposal on instant payments announced today. The ESBG hopes that the initiative will strengthen the efforts of savings and retail banks to make instant payments the new normal across the European Union.

Since its introduction, the ESBG has been supporting the development and roll out of instant payments, inter alia by encouraging its member banks to adhere on a voluntary basis to the European instant payments scheme (SCT Inst), one of the major building blocks of a future pan-European solution. Instant payments allow frictionless transfers within 10 seconds in all European countries and therefore support the ambition to strengthen the European sovereignty in the payments sector. However, the ESBG still considers that adherence should be measured in terms of number of accounts reached, rather than in terms of adhering banks and therefore stresses the importance of a more balanced approach in this respect. Nevertheless, we welcome that a differentiation has been made between banks within the euro area and banks within other EU member states when it comes to adhering to the scheme.

Fabrice Denèle, CEO BPCE Payment Services and Chair of the ESBG Payments Committee.

The ESBG especially welcomes the proposal’s attempt to streamline the approach to sanctions screening, for which it has been advocating as a key element to make instant payments effective while remaining safe.

“Relying on a daily client database screening, instead of forcing both the sending and the receiving bank to screen each and every cross-border transaction, will allow banks to offer pan-European innovative solutions while ensuring full compliance with AML/CTF rules and targeted financial sanctions regulations” said Fabrice Denèle, CEO BPCE Payment Services and Chair of the ESBG Payments Committee.

“I am very pleased to see that the suggestions put forward by the industry have been taken on board” he continued. “The ESBG was among the first associations to raise awareness on the topic to the political agenda and our regular talks with the European Central Bank have triggered the set-up of a Task Force on sanctions screening that in January 2022 delivered its report to policymakers. I am convinced that with this new approach the number of false positives will decrease drastically – hence increasing consumer trust”.

Diederik Bruggink, ESBG Head of Innovation and Payments.

“ESBG member banks were already between the early adaptors of instant payments in euro”, said the association’s Head of Innovation and Payments, Diederik Bruggink.

“The first cross-border instant payment in euro took place between two ESBG member banks, notably between CaixaBank and Erste Bank, and also the first transaction in the European Central Bank’s instant settlement system TIPS was between to ESBG member banks, BPCE and CaixaBank”, he added.

The ESBG also welcomes the focus of the proposal on consumer protection, a long standing priority for all its member banks. It especially supports the decision to leave the concrete implementation of services known as Confirmation of Payee to the market, which demonstrates full trust in the ability of the industry to find the best solutions based on the specific needs of each Member State.

Finally, in taking note about the Commission’s position on the charging principles, the ESBG highlights that a long term sustainable business model benefiting all stakeholders is key not only to ensure the success of instant payments, but also to foster their innovative potential in the ecosystem.

Press contact:

Leticia Lozano, Senior Communications Adviser
leticialozano@wsbi-esbg.org
Tel. +32 2211 1196

Download press release

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ESBG and EACB congratulate EU Commission’s Expert Group on its Open Finance report

BRUSSELS, 25 OCTOBER 2022. The European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) and the European Association of Co-operative Banks (EACB) congratulate the Expert Group on European financial data space of the European Commission on the finalisation of their Report on Open Finance, delivered yesterday to Commissioner Mairead McGuinness. The report provides an overview on the modalities for data sharing and reuse based on a specific number of illustrative use cases and describes the key components of an open finance ecosystem in the EU.

Juliana Pichler, Senior Manager for Group Regulatory Affairs & Data Governance at Raiffeisen Bank International

“Established in June 2021, the financial data space Expert Group provided advice and expertise to Directorate General for Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA) in relation to the preparation of legislative proposals and policy initiatives to foster the establishment of a common financial data space in the EU. The EACB and ESBG were actively involved by working closely with their representatives within the Expert Group, namely: Juliana Pichler, Senior Manager for Group Regulatory Affairs & Data Governance at Raiffeisen Bank International; and Gilles Saint-Romain, Head of Digital European public affairs at Groupe BPCE.

Working with experts from different fields representing a broad range of stakeholders was an incredible learning experience” declared Juliana Pichler.  “This report is very balanced and reflects the diversity of views between financial market participants, the outcome should help the reader to understand what is at stake and to make its own opinion.”

Gilles Saint-Romain, Head of Digital European public affairs at Groupe BPCE.

Gilles Saint-Romain stated: “We are convinced that a collaborative market driven approach allowing all EU economic actors to maximise innovation collectively is essential not only to have strong European market players in the lead of digital finance but also to bring more benefits to European customers”.

The ESBG and EACB believe that, for a data-driven economy to be successful, consumer protection and trust are the first prerequisite. A possible legal framework must avoid repeating the PSD2 model and instead be based on principles of mutual benefits, creating incentives for all market participants to join. The principle ‘same activity, same risks, same supervision, same rules’ should apply to all actors. This alone ensures a level playing field and a high level of consumer protection.

Building on the Report, the ESBG, EACB, and their members look forward to continuing the dialogue on open finance with the European Commission.

 

Press contact:

Leticia Lozano, Senior Communications Adviser
leticialozano@wsbi-esbg.org
Tel. +32 2211 1196

Download press release

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New taxes on banks can affect economic growth

In the current context of high inflation and economic slowdown, and with the possibility of a recession in the horizon, it is more important than ever that savings and retail banks preserve their solvency. In this respect, the recent decision in some EU countries to impose new windfall taxes on the banking sector will further reduce the latter’s lending capacity to corporates and individuals.

BRUSSELS, 6 September 2022 – European savings and retail banks played a very relevant role during the Covid-19 pandemic, contributing to sustain businesses and families during lockdown periods and beyond, while closely cooperating with the authorities to avoid a credit crunch. They have also been publicly recognised in many jurisdictions as a relevant part of the solution to the post-pandemic economic recovery.

While the effects of the Covid-19 pandemics are still being felt, the EU economy is now facing a new crisis arising from supply chain shortages and the war in Ukraine, in which savings and retail banks continue to support their customers and economic activities in general. Even further, they are actively contributing to helping Next Generation EU funds reach the real economy, by providing additional funding through their extended network of branches covering the whole EU territory and through their expertise in risk assessment.

In the current context of high inflation and economic slowdown, and with the possibility of a recession in the horizon, it is more important than ever that savings and retail banks preserve their solvency. In this respect, the recent decision in some EU countries to impose new windfall taxes on the banking sector will further reduce the latter’s lending capacity to corporates and individuals.  These sectorial taxes are discriminatory and unjustified, as the expected increase in interest rates is unlikely to lead to extraordinary profits in the banking sector (they can even decrease if NPLs start to grow). In fact, marginally higher rates simply represent the return to a normal situation after many years of very low profitability due to the negative interest rate environment, which, in turn, has also negatively affected returns to shareholders. These new taxes have also placed financial institutions in a difficult situation with their supervisors, as the requirement of not transferring their cost to customers goes against EU legislation (“EBA Guidelines on Loan Origination” state that loan pricing should include all the costs supported by banks, including taxes).

A tax on the banking sector may also undermine the social work undertaken by savings and retail banks. Social responsibility is a core value of our members; towards their clients, employees, communities, and the environment. In this context, policy makers should carefully consider the negative impact of taxation on banking foundations which have historically been involved in investing in local communities, fighting poverty, and helping those who are the most vulnerable in society.

The EU financial sector already contributes significantly to EU national budgets under the current tax framework, and it is ESBG’s view that what is needed in these uncertain times is a strong and competitive retail banking sector in Europe that continues to fulfil its key function as credit provider to companies (especially SMEs) and families alike. Therefore, any measure that can weaken the recovery of the EU economy should be carefully considered.

Finally, we are also warning against the risk of a fragmented EU tax system and calling for more tax harmonisation across EU countries. Additional taxation at national level is detrimental to a level playing field by distorting competition within the EU internal market. A particular source of distortion arises from shadow banking activity (e.g.: hedge funds) and other non-bank financial players (e.g.: big techs or credit cooperatives) which generally remain outside the scope of windfall taxes applied to the banking sector. For this reason, we believe that uncoordinated national initiatives in the field of taxation should be avoided at all costs in order to provide the necessary conditions for a fair and even distribution of financial services to European citizens and companies; especially SMEs.

 

Press contact:

Leticia Lozano, Senior Communications Adviser

leticialozano@wsbi-esbg.org

Tel. +32 2211 1196

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Number of unbanked adult EU citizens more than halved in the last four years

Nevertheless, more than 13 million adults, or 4% of the adult population, face financial exclusion, according to an ESBG analysis of the Global Findex Database 2021, recently released by the World Bank.

 

 

BRUSSELS, 14 July 2022 – The number of unbanked citizens more than halved over the past four years, but more than 13 million adult EU citizens still lack access to formal financial services, with room for Europe’s savings and retail banks to continue contributing to financial inclusion.

The European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) conducted an analysis of the Global Findex Database 2021 recently released by the World Bank, and was pleased to find that the number of banked adults in the EU has climbed.

This significant improvement can be attributed to increased efforts from the banking industry, including notably the ESBG membership serving 162 million Europeans, as well as to an increased move towards digitalisation spurred by the pandemic.

“Financial inclusion is at the core of our members’ vocation and they put great efforts on serving individuals, families and SMEs, with a focus on leaving no one behind, which has surely contributed to the improvement of financial inclusion in the block”, said ESBG Managing Director, Peter Simon.

According to the World Bank Findex (which has no data for Luxembourg over 2021), 3,6 % of Europe’s population remain financially excluded, an improvement from the 8,2% reported in 2017. This percentage translates to some 13 million adult citizens being unbanked in 2021, down from close to 31 million in 2017.

Part of the remaining unbanked are probably less-digital savvy people and banks need to continue cater for that segment. Without any doubt, all the unbanked rely on cash to participate in the economy and therefore banks must play a responsible role regarding cash provision.

Looking at some European countries in detail, Romania suffers the highest no-account rate at 30,9%, while neighbour Bulgaria faces the second highest financial exclusion rate at 16%. Following them are Hungary (11,8%), Croatia (8,2%) and Portugal (7,4%). Compared to the 2017 data, Bulgaria showed nearly an 11 percentage points improvement from 2017 when they reported 27,8% of the population remained unbanked. The Czech Republic and Lithuania significantly improved their unbanked rates over the reported period, dropping out of the top 5 list of EU countries with the highest no-account rates, as Croatia and Portugal replaced the pair.

Best-in-class countries include Denmark, with hardly any unbanked people reported, followed by Germany (0,02% unbanked) and Austria (0,05%). These are followed by the Netherlands (0,3%) and Sweden (0,3%). Austria is the newcomer in this top 5, replacing Belgium. Nevertheless, Belgium, together with 10 other countries have more than 99% of their population participating in banking services.

Table: Financial inclusion in EU Member States, unbanked adults

(Sources and notes: Global Findex – 2021 data on Luxembourg is missing in Global Findex so has been omitted, analysis by WSBI-ESBG)

  2017 2021
Country Unbanked adults 15+ Relative share Unbanked adults 15+ Relative share
Austria 137.700 1,84% 3.761 0,05%
Belgium 128.041 1,36% 95.329 0,99%
Bulgaria 1.697.604 27,80% 947.642 16,03%
Croatia 494.946 13,86% 283.466 8,20%
Cyprus 109.767 11,28% 69.197 6,87%
Czech Republic 1.703.016 19,01% 456.366 5,06%
Denmark 3.947 0,08% 0 0,00%
Estonia 22.137 2,01% 6.929 0,62%
Finland 9.866 0,21% 21.861 0,47%
France 3.270.789 6,00% 419.374 0,76%
Germany 613.053 0,86% 16.765 0,02%
Greece 1.341.302 14,53% 473.335 5,12%
Hungary 2.105.537 25,06% 983.136 11,78%
Ireland 173.372 4,66% 13.310 0,34%
Italy 3.255.366 6,21% 1.401.949 2,71%
Latvia 112.583 6,78% 53.731 3,38%
Lithuania 419.049 17,12% 152.777 6,47%
Malta 10.302 2,64% 15.982 3,55%
Netherlands 51.485 0,36% 39.231 0,27%
Poland 4.292.591 13,27% 1.377.061 4,28%
Portugal 681.086 7,66% 658.625 7,35%
Romania 7.039.982 42,25% 5.031.950 30,88%
Slovak Republic 727.964 15,82% 201.923 4,38%
Slovenia 43.408 2,47% 16.937 0,95%
Spain 2.474.022 6,24% 689.696 1,70%
Sweden 21.133 0,26% 26.545 0,31%
Totals 30.940.048 8,20% 13.456.879 3,54%

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World savings and retail banks call for harmonised taxonomies on sustainable finance

WSBI Chairman, Isidro Fainé, says banks face the future with hope and optimism, despite the short-term turbulent context.

 

Read the full WSBI Paris Declaration

Paris, 8 July 2022 – The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI), a global network representing over 7,000 savings and retail banks, called today on policymakers for the harmonisation of taxonomies on sustainable finance. This as a necessary step for banks to play an effective cross-regional role providing the investment needed to achieve the ambitions of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

At the end of the WSBI World Congress, the association’s members approved the Paris Declaration which detailed the call to policy makers to develop a set of principles for designing taxonomies that are centred on pragmatic and science-based targets.

“As WSBI members are present in remote areas, close to the people, and focus on SMEs and private households, they are aware of the necessity of having ambitious, yet pragmatic, progressive and proportional, targets”, states the document.

The Declaration called for taxonomy design principles that encourage interoperability and mutual recognition to promote cross-border sustainable finance and to reduce compliance costs. It points out the need for a common language to ease comparability while preventing duplication of efforts and points to the EU-China Common Ground Taxonomy (CGT) as a promising first step in the right direction.

The WSBI Chairman, Isidro Fainé, closed the World Congress with a message of optimism despite the short-term turbulent context the world is living.

“The WSBI community of banks is facing the future with hope and optimism. An optimism that translates into specific actions for social progress. This is evidenced by our impeccable track record in the way we do banking, where financial inclusion is our flag and with our philanthropic actions, where our priority is to help those most in need through a wide range of social and educational programmes”, said Isidro Fainé.

The Chairman also emphasised that “the determination of our community to contribute to a better world, as our DNA dictates. Our WSBI members on five continents believe that a better world is possible”.

Founded in 1924, the WSBI members share a business model that has social responsibility at its core and is focused on serving local communities, households and SMEs. WSBI has 65 members in 88 countries. They serve over 1.7 billion customers, have total assets of over 15 trillion dollars, and employ 2.2 million workers.

The 26th World Congress was held in Paris on 7-8 July.

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World savings and retail banks moving forward on sustainability

World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI)'s members get together for the first time since 2018 at the 26th World Congress, in Paris.

Paris, 7 July 2022 – The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI), representing over 7,000 organisations globally and serving some 1.7 billion customers, held today its 26th Congress ‘Regionally rooted, globally responsible’ with focus on how to move forward with financial sustainability in the current challenging times.

“Feeling and acting socially responsible is inextricably linked to our identity. The fact is we were born that way, it forms part of our DNA, and it is our vocation. All of this translates into our way of doing banking that is fundamentally different from other players in the sector, and furthermore, it is profitable, efficient and fair”, said WSBI President, Isidro Faine, as he addressed over 200 participants from 4 continents who gathered today in Paris for the first time since 2018.

Sustainability was the key topic at the centre of the discussions and panels, as savings and retails banks seek the most effective ways to move forward on the topic and contribute to address the pressing environmental needs.

The internationally renowned mountaineer and activist, Reinhold Messner, presented his vision for a sustainable future.

Sustainable financial regulation, the role of the physical branch in the digital era, and the most recent geopolitical shifts were some of the topics covered today.

“This kind of crisis moments are the time that we have to realise our power and to fulfil our duty to the fullest by contemplating on what we can deliver in the face of these challenges,” said WSBI Managing Director, Peter Simon, at the end of the first day of this event.

The 26th World Congress is held in Paris on 7-8 July.

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Overtime for Ukrainian war refugees: DSGV employees donate over 100,000 euros through extra work

Overtime for Ukrainian war refugees: DSGV employees donate over 100,000 euros through extra work

Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine has caused the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War with millions fleeing their country. At the same time, it has triggered various actions and reactions from the European Commission and EU regulators that heavily affect banks.
ESBG members have raised to the challenges that the crisis in Ukraine has created. On one hand, they are sharing knowledge and best practices in a coordinated way to tackle the challenges as they raise. On the other, European savings and retail banks have reaffirmed their commitment to social responsibility with direct actions and initiatives to support people in need.

Overtime for Ukrainian war refugees: DSGV employees donate over 100,000 euros through extra work

Employees of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association (DSGV) have so far collected more than €100,000 for Ukrainian war refugees. The proud sum was raised because employees donated part of their overtime. The DSGV converted the overtime donation into a corresponding cash donation.
With the overtime donation, DSGV supports various projects that benefit war refugees from Ukraine, including “Arrival Support Berlin”, “Support for Ukrainian Refugees in Moldova”, “Ukraine-Hilfe Lobetal” and the Ukraine aid of “wildtierrettung.de”. The initiatives have in common that they make it easier for people to arrive in Germany and thus make an important contribution in a difficult life situation.

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Stand with Ukraine: Erste family provides extensive humanitarian aid

Stand with Ukraine: Erste family provides extensive humanitarian aid

Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine has caused the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War with millions fleeing their country. At the same time, it has triggered various actions and reactions from the European Commission and EU regulators that heavily affect banks.
ESBG members have raised to the challenges that the crisis in Ukraine has created. On one hand, they are sharing knowledge and best practices in a coordinated way to tackle the challenges as they raise. On the other, European savings and retail banks have reaffirmed their commitment to social responsibility with direct actions and initiatives to support people in need.

Erste Bank Group (Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia): Together with its subsidiary banks and ERSTE Foundation, Erste Group has been implementing a comprehensive package of humanitarian support measures for Ukrainians. For instance, since Monday 14 March 2022, the Caritas Day Centre at Erste Campus in Vienna has been welcoming Ukrainians in need from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. – seven days a week. People on the move also have access to WiFi and quiet zones. A children’s play corner is also provided for the little ones thanks to SOS Children’s Village. In addition, all payments from Erste Group accounts to Ukraine are free of charge, with any fees incurred being refunded after the transfer to facilitate private aid payments and donations to organizations. Erste Group’s subsidiary banks offer access to free accounts for Ukrainian refugees to facilitate money transfers. Moreover, Erste Group will support its partner organizations Caritas and the International Red Cross with donations of one million euros each. In addition, the Romanian subsidiary bank BCR donated a total of 100,000 euros to Save the Children, the Red Cross, and Romanian government initiatives

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