The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), at its June plenary, said that temporary measures should be adopted to alleviate the immediate economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
The EU's banking prudential rules need to be temporarily amended so that resources can be freed up and used as effectively as possible to address the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the opinion drafted by Giuseppe Guerini and adopted at the June plenary session, the EESC throws its support behind the Commission's proposal to adopt temporary adjustments to the EU's Capital Requirements Regulations (CRR), also known as banking prudential rules, and points out that it must be approved as quickly as possible.
Commenting on the sidelines of the meeting, Mr Guerini said that "the EU is facing an unprecedented crisis, and so an equally extraordinary response is required. Urgent measures must be adopted to support the European economy in the EU Member States and address the serious repercussions that will result from the pandemic crisis. In this situation, it is essential to ensure that the recession does not further undermine the already at-risk diversity of the EU banking sector. In particular, the specific role of community and territorial banks – particularly those with the locally owned model typical of cooperative banks – must be protected and reinforced."
The Commission's proposal
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Commission has proposed a few targeted "quick fix" amendments to the Capital Requirements Regulation in order to maximise the ability of banks to lend and absorb losses related to the current crisis.
The Commission would like to amend Regulations (EU) No 575/2013 and (EU) 2019/876 by adopting a number of exceptional temporary measures that aim to: adapt the timeline of the application of international accounting standards on banks' capital, treat more favourably public guarantees granted during this crisis, postpone the date of application of the leverage ratio buffer and, finally, modify the way of excluding certain exposures from the calculation of the leverage ratio.
The Commission also proposes to advance the date of application of several agreed measures that incentivise banks to finance employees, SMEs and infrastructure projects.
The Committee's opinion
The EESC agrees with the decision to postpone the implementation of the consolidated Basel III framework, stressing that existing rules will have to be reviewed in light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and, if need be, further impact assessments should be carried out.
Against this backdrop, banks and authorities may not be able to meet some regulatory deadlines at this stage due to current operational challenges. The EESC is concerned about this and, in line with making every effort to push banks to support the real economy as effectively as possible, it agrees with the proposal to bring forward the dates for implementing some capital absorption calibrations provided for in the CRR, but not yet applicable.
In addition, the EESC upholds the need to introduce a green and social supporting factor, which will reduce capital absorption, for financing granted by banks for social economy enterprises and those enterprises genuinely involved in sustainable and inclusive development programmes.
With reference to the regulatory framework on non-performing loans (NPL), the Committee calls for a temporary amendment to Regulation (EU) 2019/630 as regards minimum coverage of losses on non-performing exposures, since the coronavirus crisis will inevitably influence the NPL market in a number of ways.
Finally, the EESC considers that the "prudential filter", already provided for in the Basel II framework, needs to be introduced on a temporary basis to remove unrealised assets and losses from balance sheets.