Commissioner for Financial Services McGuinness: European banks handled their huge role during the COVID-19 crisis very well

Commissioner Mairead McGuinness (second from left) met FFI Board's Vice Chairs Ari Kaperi (left) and Juha Koponen and FFI's Managing Director Piia-Noora Kauppi.
  • Mairead McGuinness, the Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, met with the board and management of Finance Finland in Helsinki on Friday 12 November.
  • The attendees discussed topics such as sustainable finance, Basel III and Solvency II.
  • The majority of Finnish financial services regulation comes from the EU, making direct dialogue with the Commission extremely important.

McGuinness’s responsibilities include issues relating to the stability of the financial system, the completion of the banking union, the development of a capital markets union and sustainable finance. One of the aims of the Commissioner’s three-day visit to Finland was to discuss views on the EU Taxonomy.

Finance Finland’s (FFI) Vice Chair Ari Kaperi and Managing Director Piia-Noora Kauppi started off the meeting by briefing the Commissioner on FFI and the Finnish financial services sector. Board member Riikka Laine-Tolonen presented on the efforts of Finnish banks during the coronavirus crisis. Financial sector companies have been actively enabling and supporting households and businesses in their recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

McGuinness agreed that banks had a huge role during the coronavirus crisis as they continued to provide liquidity to citizens and businesses. The Commissioner commended the sector for how it was able to smoothly switch to remote working without interruptions in its provision of services to customers. Thanks to post financial crisis regulation, banks remained well capitalised and well focused on services.

The main topics of discussion concerned the Commission’s proposals for the completion of Basel III, which governs the capital requirements of banks, and the review of insurance companies’ Solvency II regulation. The Finnish financial sector’s views on Basel III were introduced by Kaperi, while Solvency II was discussed by FFI’s Vice Chair Juha Koponen and Deputy Managing Director Esko Kivisaari.

“Much of the regulation of the financial sector is being discussed in McGuinness’s cabinet, and it is excellent that we are able to explain our positions directly to the Commissioner”, Kauppi said before the meeting.

McGuinness’s important responsibilities also cover the EU’s sustainable finance agenda. FFI’s team had the opportunity to brief the Commissioner on the Finnish sector’s commitment to sustainable finance projects and the overall role of financial services in increasing sustainability.

McGuinness conceded the Commission is aware of the problems related to the timetable of sustainable finance regulation. The pressure to make changes is heavy, however: the urgency of climate change makes it necessary to push forward.