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WARSAW, Poland -Poland is not yet a member of the European Union (EU), but there are enough indications that it will join, and credit unions in Poland’s 10-year old movement are preparing for that day. Although some credit unions have been worried they would not be able to continue to operate under new EU regulations, the work already done has removed that concern, Adam Kaminski, vice president of the National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU) – Poland’s credit union league – told delegates gathered June 25-28 at the Sixth International Leadership Institute run by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) where he was speaking. According to Kaminski, Polish credit unions already meet EU directives and other financial services regulations. Where they don’t, exclusions are being negotiated thanks to the special social benefits credit unions offer. To gain the exemptions, NACSCU lobbied parliament. The first problem was the amount of capitalization of 5 million Euros required for a bank to be opened. Polish credit unions will also be exempted from having highly trained board members. If it is an electrician industry credit union, for example, the board members will probably not be highly educated economists or MBAs, Kaminski said. What compensates for the size and educational levels is the self-help and financial services provided for people who have no access to financial services either by income restrictions or by geographical location. Despite the numerous areas where Polish credit unions want exemption, the one area they do not was exemption is in the area of money laundering. They believe they should follow the strong EU directives. Polish credit unions are part of the national clearing system. Although they are now participating in credit sharing information, they have the privacy protection regulations in place, especially database protection standards. Kaminski said that they’re already following the EU’s directive on contracts. In the EU and in Poland a consumer who takes a loan can change his or her mind within three days without penalty. Accounting transparency is also in place. Members know, through financial reports, the state of their credit union. Credit unions as they’re known in the United States only exist in the EU countries of Great Britain and Ireland. Other European countries have co-operative and mutual banks that like credit unions consider their founding father to be Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffreisen. Poland, if it enters the European Union will be the third EU country to offer credit unions to its citizens. – [email protected]

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