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WOCCU member groups launch European CU network
BRUSSELS, Belgium (10/19/09)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and six European credit union organizations last week
Click to view larger image European Parliament member Marian Harkin, Ireland, co-hosted a European Credit Union Network meeting in Brussels last week to launch the European Network of Credit Unions.
Click to view larger image "Credit unions have operated with sound regulatory and internal standards," the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions’ Grzegorz Bierecki told participants at the European Network of Credit Unions breakfast.
Click to view larger image “We welcome the launch of the new organization representing credit unions,” Malcolm Harbour, chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, told the European Network of Credit Unions. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
launched the European Network of Credit Unions. The network will serve as a platform to exchange information among member organizations and speak in a unified voice about issues affecting European credit unions. The network convened its first meeting at a Tuesday breakfast dedicated to presentations on responsible lending in Brussels. European Parliament members Marian Harkin, Ireland, and Jacek Kurski, Poland, co-hosted the event. “For the past five years, we have been working together to create a greater awareness of the contributions credit unions make to the European Union,” said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services and as the network's vice president. “This is a historic day for European credit unions because the network will strengthen the role credit unions play in providing important financial service alternatives to European citizens.” More than 40 people attended the meeting. They included 14 members of the European Parliament, four members of the European Commission and three from the Council of Ministers. Speaking about responsible lending were Grzegorz Bierecki, second vice chairman of WOCCU’s board and president of the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU), WOCCU’s member organization in Poland; and Mick McAteer, director of the United Kingdom’s Financial Inclusion Centre, an independent research and policy innovation think tank dedicated to promoting fair, affordable financial services and an efficient, accountable financial system. Both speakers stressed the importance of sound lending practices, especially in light of the ongoing global economic crisis. Credit unions have an important role to play in maintaining economic stability, especially on behalf of their members, the speakers said. “In analyzing the causes of the financial crisis, it is clear one of the focal points has been the provision of unsustainable credit,” Bierecki said. “Credit unions have not been involved in the subprime market in the European Union. Instead, credit unions have operated with sound regulatory and internal standards in place that guarantee responsible lending to members.” The response to the session and the network's formation was positive among officials present at the breakfast, WOCCU said. “We welcome the launch of a new organization representing credit unions in Europe and look forward to working with them,” said Malcolm Harbour, chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. In addition to WOCCU and NACSCU, WOCCU member groups that participate in the network include the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd.; the Central Federation of Romanian Credit Unions; the Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives; the Irish League of Credit Unions; and Macedonia's FULM Savings House. The six European organizations represent more than 1,000 credit unions serving 5.5 million members. For more information, use the link.
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