Opening Speech at the SRB Annual Conference 2020 by Elke König

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[Introduction]

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, fellow speakers; and good morning to all of you joining us from around the world online.

First, may I thank each of our speakers for taking part in this event – the quality and calibre of speakers this year is second to none. I also want to thank all of you at home for connecting this morning, and I hope you will find the debates and discussions useful and interesting.

[The difference a year makes]

What a difference a year makes! This time last year, we were able to meet in person. This year, we are holding this event under very different circumstances. Nevertheless, the show must go on, and now more than ever it is vital to ensure that, in our ever-changing world, banks are resolvable. The best way to avoid a crisis is good preparation. In this context, our work provides the banking system with a firm foundation for stability. This in turn provides stability to our economy and for our people. Europe has learnt the lessons from the last crisis and put a framework in place that can deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic.

[Emerging from the emergency]

Covid-19 might be considered as a ‘black swan event’. However we have all learnt from 2007/2008, and financial regulators in Europe took decisive and quick steps to keep ahead of the looming crisis. However emergency measures, by their nature, are not meant for the medium or long term. So are we now going to have to re-consider such measures? I think this will be no doubt a discussion on some of our panels today.

Ladies and gentlemen, the resolution framework we have today is not perfect, but it is agile and it is robust. The SRB has to do two things

  • Number one: We have to focus on the implementation of existing rules and policies and
  • Number two: we must engage with calls for longer term reforms and tweaks.

As regards number one – existing rules and policies – we have continued to push forward with our normal activities such as the resolution planning cycle, despite, at the same time, giving leeway to banks on certain areas. The reason is simple – we must ensure the resolvability of all our banks as we go through uncertain times. So my message is clear: the SRB will continue with its day to day work; and the expectations for banks - as laid out clearly for industry for some time now - remain the expectations through this crisis. We cannot afford to put off dealing with impediments to resolvability.

As regards number two, longer term issues: Yes, we would like to see a common deposit insurance scheme, a backstop to the fund and a completion or at least a solid enhancement of the CMU, a harmonisation of insolvency regimes…. the list is long…..! but all of this must be done in parallel, not instead of implementing existing rules.

[Today’s programme]

Today’s programme is more compact and concentrated than in previous years – however the quality of our speakers and our topics for discussion is as high as ever. So may I once again, thank our wonderful speakers for their time and their input today; and while many things have changed this year, we also have some reassuring constants, and in this respect, I am delighted that Melinda Crane will once again moderate this event. She needs no introduction to our conference anymore!

I know many of you will miss the exchange with other participants in the margins of this conference, but rest assured the SRB’s team stands ready for dialogue, and there will be other opportunities in the future to continue the conversations in person.

[Conclusion]

Ladies and gentlemen, while the resolution framework in the EU is by no means perfect, it is a framework that works: it has required banks to become better prepared to withstand shocks.

And we will continue to ensure we implement the provisions of that framework to ensure it is robust going forward. We will continue to ensure that we have firm foundations for financial stability.

Contrary to 2008, today we can say that banks are part of the solution for economic recovery. How exactly they can play that role is up for discussion, but I have no doubt our speakers will have some good ideas today. 

Thank you.

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