8. April 2014

20th German Banking Congress in Berlin - Banks and policymakers: joint responsibility for Europe

Following a brief welcome by the President of the host Association of German Banks, Jürgen Fitschen, the 20th German Banking Congress will get underway this evening with a speech by Deutsche Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann on “Stable banks for a stable Europe”.

Federal President Joachim Gauck will open the conference day tomorrow. One high-profile panel, including ECB Executive Board Member Sabine Lautenschläger, will discuss “Banking, fiscal and political union – how much unity does Europe need?”, while another will look at “What kind of banks does the economy need?” The Banking Congress will close with a speech by Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on “For a good future: regulate financial markets – balance budgets.”

The Banking Congress, which takes place every three years, brings together high-ranking political and business figures from inside and outside Germany. “This year in particular, the Banking Congress provides an opportunity to examine the role of banks in our society and at the same time to try to determine where we currently stand,” Mr Fitschen says.
   
In his speech on “Banks and policymakers: joint responsibility for Europe” before an expected audience of over 800 guests,
Mr Fitschen will mention, among other things, that hardly any other sector is undergoing such transformation at present as the banking sector. At the same time, he stresses that hardly any other sector is also being confronted so hard with its alleged or actual failings.
Since 2008, banks have launched a raft of reforms. According to Mr Fitschen, banks are well aware that they now have to win over the public through their actions – this is the only way they can regain trust. The process is not over by a long way, however, in his view. “We are in the middle of a period of upheaval, since long-term changes take time to kick in noticeably. We will continue to use the time at our disposal conscientiously,” Mr Fitschen explains.

He points out that trust is one side of the coin, sustained stabilisation of the financial system the other. “A stable financial system calls for effective regulation. But profitable banks are just as important,” Mr Fitschen makes clear. He says that policymakers and the financial sector have together managed to make both the German and the European financial system much more stable.
“European banking union is thus a highly important and right response to the questions posed by the crises over the past few years,” he finds, adding that banking union is, more than anything, essential to give the European banking system a common set of rules. Mr Fitschen concludes that, if implemented firmly, it could be one of the key stability-policy measures in recent years and provide a fresh boost to European integration.

The 20th German Banking Congress – the largest social event staged by the Association of German Banks, with around 800 invited guests from the financial, political, media and economic sectors – will take place in Berlin on 8 – 9 April. You can follow the Banking Congress live online at bankentag.de. The Association of German Banks will also be tweeting during the Banking Congress, using the hashtag “#bankentag”.

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