Leaders from the World Council of Credit Unions and the European Network of Credit Unions met with policymakers in Brussels this week to discuss critical regulatory issues, the organizations said.
Topics included draft directives concerning data protection, the proposed pan-European banking union, and deposit guarantee schemes under consideration in the European Union.
"Everywhere credit unions are seeing increased regulatory burden," said Brian Branch, president/CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions in Madison, Wis. “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 joined the ENCU delegation in Brussels together with Michael Edwards, chief counsel and vice president for advocacy and government affairs for the World Council.
The delegation met representatives from the European Commission and the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee to discuss a new regulation that would help harmonize data protection laws among the EU's 27 member states and would require most organizations that deal 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.
ENCU and World Council representatives sought clarification on the regulation's application to credit unions and suggested ways to achieve the regulation's objectives without unreasonably burdening credit unions.
The group emphasized to policymakers that financial services, not managing personal data, are the core business of credit unions, the World Council said.
In anticipation of Ireland holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union in January, ENCU delegates also met with Michael Taggart, financial services attaché, Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU, to address proposed directives that would burden credit unions.
The presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates among the 27 member states every six months and is responsible for chairing and organizing meetings of the council and for facilitating agreements and proposals that support the interests of the European Union.
The EU is considering expanding authority of the European Central Bank and other EU banking supervision entities to supervise all EU banking institutions.
ENCU and World Council representatives advocated for local, national regulatory bodies to have day-to-day regulatory and examination responsibility as well as 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 commercial banks that are certain to be subject to increased EU-level supervision.
The ENCU representatives 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 most EU credit unions – should be exempt from such requirements.