On the 12-13th May 2014 the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks and Financiers – FEBEA held its 13th General Assembly in Freiburg, Germany.
The event was organised in collaboration with the member OEKOGENO, who celebrates this year its 30 years of activity.
As in the previous meetings, the General Assembly was preceded by an open day of seminars, dedicated this year to “The European-model crisis and the alternative solutions of ethical finance”, attended by more than 70 persons from different European countries.
The seminar day was opened by the welcome speeches of Bernd Steyer and Franz Karl Karis, respectively Director and President of the Board of Oekogeno, Fabio Salviato, Chairman of FEBEA and Reinhold Pix, Member of the Parliament of the Baden-Württemberg land.
The conference, divided in different sessions, proposed a reflection, starting from the European economic-social-financial crisis, on the role of ethical banks and financiers, both the « historical » ones and the new initiatives developing in different European countries, trying also to identify the challenges and opportunities of the next years for FEBEA and its members.
In the first session, “The crisis of the European Union model”, Ms. Ulrike Herrmann presented the problems and difficulties of the economic and social model of the European Union, where the internal policies of the member states have significant impacts on the economy of all the community.
The second session “The alternative: the examples provided by ethical finance in Europe” hosted the positive experiences of ethical banks in the past decades. Oekogeno and Credal celebrate indeed this year their 30 years of activity. While Banca Popolare Etica achieved its 15 years.
These organisations, represented by Bernd Steyer, Bernard Horenbeek and Ugo Biggeri, developed their activities on their reference territories, each one through specific elements that allowed their success from an economical, financial and social point of view.
In this regard, Ugo Biggeri mentioned the recently published study of Banca Etica on the social impacts of their banking activity, that showed very positive and encouraging results.
The session was concluded by Christian Felber, promoter of the initiatives Demokratische - bank (AT) and Gemeinwohl-Oekonomie, who presented the project « Common Welfare Economy», that is having growing attention in Austria and abroad, in the academic field but also in the economic-financial sector.
The conference continued with the session dedicated to «The opportunities for ethical finance in the new European programming period 2014-2020». Daniel Sorrosal, FEBEA Policy and Advocacy Manger, presented the European policies, programmes and initiatives that could involve ethical finance organisations.
A representative of EIF presented then the tools developed by the European investment Fund –EIF for social enterprises, microcredit and in general the social economy, that could be managed in collaboration with the members FEBEA.
The meeting continued with two sessions focused on specific themes, that present challenges and development opportunities for the FEBEA members and in general the financial institutions: technological development and energetic transition.
Professor Gilbert Fridgen presented «Technical development in the banks world in the 21st century, opportunities and risks for the alternative banking model», describing the innovations that are significantly modifying the relation between banking institutions and clients, identifying also the possible developments and solutions to be adopted.
Professor Franz Alt concluded the conference, underlining in his intervention « Energetic transition : a no-return path», the importance of supporting the diffusion of renewable energies, with a particular focus on photovoltaic systems.
During the General Assembly of the 13th May, FEBEA presented the most significant
activities of 2013 and programmes for 2014.
In particular, concerning the activities 2013, it was underlined the development of relations with the new organisations that are realising ethical finance projects in Europe. FEBEA established good relations with organisations in Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Finland and Austria.
Also thanks to these relations and the ones developed with organisations an networks of social economy in Europe, FEBEA presented in November 2013, in collaboration with its members, 6 projects for the Call for Proposal VP/2013/017 – «Supporting the demand and supply side of the market for social enterprise finance».
Moreover, as already announced at the end of 2013, the President reminded that FEBEA changed its structure, by addressing more strategically the opportunities offered by the new European programming 2014-2020, through the engagement of some Directors and of Mr. Sorrosal, Policy and Advocacy Manager.
2014 started very positively for the Federation: it has to be underlined that FEBEA gathers this year 25 members, in 14 European countries, thanks to the adhesion as associate members of Cooperative for ethical finance – Ebank of Croatia and Sklad 05 of Slovenia.
In the context of its new strategic orientation, FEBEA has already launched many initiatives, among which we can mention :
- The realisation of the study « Review of impact assessment methodologies for ethical finance » in collaboration with ISB – Institute for Social Banking. The first results were presented during the Assembly, while the final results will be diffused during 2014. This presentation was integrated by the specif experience of the member SIDI in the field of social impact measurement.
- The organisation in March 2014 of an informative seminar for the members on the opportunities of the new European programming ;
- The launch of the Appeal to Candidates to the Presidency of the European Commission, in order to focus the attention on the regulation of the financial system and on the role of ethical and alternative banks.
The Assembly elected the new Board of Directors, in charge for the next three years, reconfirming Fabio Salviato as President. The members of the new Board are Bernard Horenbeek (Credal), Cyrille Langendorff (Credit Cooperatif), Chiara Meneghetti (Etimos), Lars Hektoen (Cultura Bank), Pedro Manuel Sasia Santos (Fiare), Wlodzimierz Grudzinski (Tise), Etienne Bonvin (ABS), Rony Mels (Hefboom), Jacky Blanc (La Nef), Christian Schmitz (Sidi) and Fabio Salviato.
The Chairman Fabio Salviato reminded, concluding the works of the Assembly, that in the future years FEBEA should continue to work with the European Institutions in order to promote the acknowledgment of ethical finance; furthermore the Federation will have to strengthen the relations with the new initiatives of ethical finance in Europe in order to support their development.
Concluding, the President underlined the importance to continue working in network with the other European organisations and networks that are engaged for the support of ethical finance and social economy.
The next years will be therefore stimulating and motivating for FEBEA and its members, that could seize some important opportunities by working and developing together.