The European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks (FEBEA) organized its 12th General Assembly on the 21st and 22nd of April 2013 in Palma de Majorca, Spain. This year the Federation wanted to show its solidarity towards its Spanish members, given the difficult situation that they’re facing. The General Assembly was therefore organized in the territories of Colonya Caixa Pollenca, one of the two Spanish saving banks authorized to maintain their status in the context of the reorganization of the Spanish banking system.
The Federation was welcomed by José Ramon Bauza, President of the Government of the Baleares, Josep Antoni Cifre, President of Colonya Caixa Pollença and Fabio Salviato, President of FEBEA. This event gathered in the Baleares more than 140 persons, from 12 countries of the European Union.
This European meeting opened with the lessons learned from the Spanish financial crisis. After the analysis of the causes and effects of the crisis in Spain, Arcadi Oliveres, Professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, proposed 3 measures to be applied to the banking sector: the Tobin tax, abolition of the tax heavens and relaunch of the public sector-specific banks. Ethical finance wants to correct the mistakes and deficiencies of the ordinary banks and also supports the marginalized territories, continued Rodrigues Lopez, economist at the Bank of Spain and member of the association “Economists facing the crisis”.
Jean-Louis Bancel, President of the International Association of Co-operative Banks - ICBA, and of Crédit Coopératif (founding member of FEBEA), invited the Federation to build its future without denying its origins, innovating constantly in order to be recognized. “We have to strongly push the European Union, they need us and we need them”.
The representatives of the European Commission for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and of the European Investment Fund, Lukas Vesely and Saiyi Suzuki Navarro, presented and answered to the questions about the European financing tools programmed in the budget 2014-2020 for the microcredit and the social entrepreneurship.
But, as underlined by the Spanish europarliamentarians, Rosa Estaras Ferragut and Pablo Martin Peré, it is also necessary to achieve an European agreement concerning the measures for employment, as there’s the risk to “lose an entire generation” in a country like Spain where the unemployment rate is almost at 50%.
With the words of Guillem Cifre de Colonya, well-known educator, politician, philanthropist and founder of Colonya Caixa Pollenca in 1880, Antonio Amengual, Coordinator of the Estalvi ètic, opened the presentation of Colonya’s activities: "there’s no greater pleasure in the world than working for the other’s good". General Director Gabriel Bauza presented then the details of the bank structure and activities.
Three of Colonya’s clients presented their experience: Amadiba (Association of the Mothers of Handicapped of Baleares); Fundacion Deixalles (occupational integration in garbage- treatment activities and environment protection) and GREC (Group of Educating and Working groups with minors).
Partners of the FEBEA, the European Microfinance Network, in collaboration with the European Investment Fund (EIF), organized a round-table about the possible synergies between banks and MFIs - microfinance institutions, well explained by the case of Fair Finance (United Kingdom) and Patria Credit (Romania). Riccardo Aguglia of EIF invited FEBEA to play a key role in the field of the European funds for the microcredit and the exploration of pilot projects.
Some important announces were also made during the General Assembly :
- FEBEA is broadening, since this year it has admitted a new member and a new country: Patria Takarek is an Hungarian co-operative bank, who has in particular launched a line of ecological bank products.
- Crédit Coopératif will be one of the three private investors involved in the European tool “Social Impact Accelerator” for the Social Entrepreneurship, managed by the European Investment Fund and to be launched in May 2013.
- Finally, important message of this Assembly, organized on a island at the border of two continents, FEBEA opens in 2013 a working group for the “Social and solidarity finance in the Mediterranean area”.
In conclusion, 2012 has been a year of many realizations for FEBEA, as recalled by its President Fabio Salviato. The 31st of May 2012 the Definition of Ethical and Alternative Banks, prepared by the members of FEBEA, was submitted to the European Commissioner of the DG Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier. This is an important step in the process of recognition for ethical finance. During the year, many seminars took place, dedicated to the capitalization of “ethical banks”, to the crowd funding or the innovative experiences in the field of renewable energies. These were good moments also to strength the relationship with some organizations as Eurosif and Inaise, among the others.
For 2013 the activities continue: there’s the need to capitalize ethical and solidarity-based banks, and also to develop sector-dedicated funds, for example for renewable energies and for social entrepreneurship. “FEBEA doesn’t hold the ‘truth’, but it has the possibility to find tools and solutions for the challenges of ethical finance in Europe” concluded FEBEA’s President.
You can see the videos of the conference here
Presentations of the speakers during the conference