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ESBG statement on Covid-19: Now more than ever

ESBG statement on Covid-19: Now more than ever

​​​​​​- ​Savings and retails banks help people weather coronavirus storm

- Letter to EU policymakers welcome measures made, more needed

- Lists policy proposals to further help real economy, banking sector

>> See ESBG letter to policymakers

>> See measures already taken in Europe  

>> ESBG proposals for further action 

>> WSBI-ESBG: At your service


BRUSSELS, 25 March 2021 – Savings and retail banking association ESBG today released a statement ​a statement to policymakers in Europe outlining further ways to address financial sector issues brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter signed by association President Helmut Schleweis and Managing Director Chris De Noose, ESBG said that despite the biggest challenge in many years, financial reforms taken after the financial crisis have made banks “safer, more stable, and more resilient in the face of shocks." The coronavirus outbreak was “not in the cards", ESBG noted, expressing how need exists “to work together with authorities to avoid any collapse in the economic system."

Savings & retail banks play stabilising role

Fully committed to supporting their customers as they struggle through the Covid-19 pandemic, savings and retail banks in Europe commit themselves to finding the best, sustainable solutions. Those banks hold a crucial stabilising function in times of crisis due to their branch, online and mobile reach, being close to customers and lending activity in good times and not so good. They help people – individuals, families, small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), institutions, young people, the elderly and society in general, in urban and also rural areas. Representing nearly 900 banks in 21 countries in Europe, ESBG points out that its members help SMEs and other companies “overcome liquidity bottlenecks and provide stability." For this to succeed, the Brussels-based association notes that “everything possible should be done in regulatory and macroprudential terms to maintain the liquidity and credit supply."

Real economy concerns: Households, SMEs, corporates need support

ESBG pinpointed in the letter some “real economy" concerns, namely that SMEs face extraordinarily challenging times, needing help through high-impact support measures offered in many countries. That support should be targeted as well to larger, heavily affected industries, such as transport and tourism, the ESBG adds. As all stakeholders from the public and private sectors work together to overcome this difficult period, economic, financial, fiscal and social measures need to be designed and implemented as soon as possible. Calls for greater European cooperation should not go unheeded, ESBG said: “Europe needs to face the coronavirus crisis in a united and well-coordinated manner." ESBG has a lot of skin in the Europe's SME and corporate lending market, with more than €1 trillion in SME and corporate loans on their books.

Inclusive, socially minded banking boosts customer trust, community confidence

Banks during this crisis form an essential part of the solution. That's because ESBG members' value an inclusive and socially committed approach to banking vital to during challenging times. People served by savings and retail banks can continue to rely on them as partners that do their utmost to mitigate many of the day-to-day, real-world effects the crisis brings. ESBG added, “Now more than ever, we will stand strong to provide confidence, comfort and trust when customers and communities need it most."

Policy asks on many fronts at EU, national levels

Welcoming efforts made by authorities in Europe so far, ESBG sees scope for more action. An annex attached to the letter includes specific policy areas ESBG sees as needed to further address the Covid-19 economic and financial sector hit. Designed to give banks enough flexibility to continue supporting their customers, ESBG points out that “some measures already taken need additional guidance and an extended scope to achieve its objective." Proposals listed are directed to institutions such as the European Central Bank and European Banking Authority as welll as national and resolution authorities. The full list of the proposals appear in the annex and letter available on the ESBG website:


>> Read: ESBG letter to policymakers

>> See the measures already taken in Europe              

>> ESBG's proposals for further action           

>> WSBI-ESBG at your service



European Institutions; European Supervisory Authorities (EBA-ESMA); SME finance; Regulation; Covid-19