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WOCCU European CUs meet with EU policymakers
BRUSSELS (12/5/12)--The European Network of Credit Unions (ENCU) and World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) met with policymakers in Brussels this week to discuss regulatory issues related to draft directives about data protection, the proposed pan-European banking union and deposit guarantee plans being considered in the European Union (EU).

Meeting at the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union (EU) in Brussels this week to discuss draft directives for EU-wide legislation were, from left: Paweł Grzesik, NACSCU in Poland; Brian Branch, World Council of Credit Unions in the U.S.; Brian McCrory, ILCU, Ireland; Michael Taggart, Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU; and Matt Bland, ABCUL, Britain. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
"Everywhere credit unions are seeing increased regulatory burden," said Brian Branch, WOCCU president/CEO. He and Michael Edwards, WOCCU chief counsel and vice president for advocacy and government affairs, joined the ENCU delegation in Brussels. "While we believe strongly in rigorous prudential discipline and risk management, we need to constantly dialogue with policymakers to educate them about the proportionately high compliance cost of such rules for smaller and less risky credit unions," Branch said.

ENCU representatives included Matt Bland, policy and communications officer, Association of British Credit Unions Ltd.; Andrus Ristkok, president, Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives; Brian McCrory, director, Irish League of Credit Unions; and Paweł Grzesik, Warsaw representative of the National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions in Poland.

The ENCU group visited representatives from the European Commission and from the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee to discuss a new regulation that would help harmonize data protection laws in the EU's 27 member states and would require most organizations dealing with sensitive personal data to appoint a data protection officer.

Small and medium businesses with fewer than 250 employees would be excluded from the requirement unless they conducted regular and systemic customer monitoring as part of their core business.

The group sought clarification on the regulation's application to credit unions and suggested ways to achieve the regulation's objectives without unreasonably burdening credit unions. It emphasized to policymakers that financial services, not managing personal data, are the core business of credit unions.

In anticipation of Ireland becoming the EU president, ENCU delegates also met with Michael Taggart, financial services attaché, Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU, to address proposed directives that would excessively burden credit unions.

The EU is seriously considering expanding authority of the European Central Bank and other EU banking supervision entities to directly supervise all banking institutions in the EU. ENCU and World Council representatives advocated having local, national regulatory bodies with day-to-day regulatory and examination responsibility to retain jurisdiction over credit union business activities, corporate governance and related activities. ENCU delegates noted to Taggart that credit unions do not operate on a cross-border basis, unlike systemically important commercial banks certain to be subject to increased EU-level supervision.

The delegation also addressed with Taggart the EU's forthcoming mortgage lending requirements, which would require significant training of credit union personnel. ENCU representatives stressed that credit unions not engaged in purchase-money first mortgage lending, which includes virtually all EU credit unions, should be exempt from such requirements.

The group also met with MEP Peter Simon, a key member of the influential Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee who is the rapporteur of the draft directive on an EU-wide deposit guarantee scheme.


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