European Parliamentarians support increasing credit union business lending

MADISON, WI (November 7, 2017) — The European Parliament Credit Union Interest Group met on 7 November with the European Network of Credit Unions to discuss how the European Union can promote increased business lending to small and medium-enterprises by credit unions. Credit unions have a long history of business lending in Europe beginning in the 1850s with agricultural loans. Today, European credit unions have billions of Euros in available lending capacity that can be used to provide credit to small and medium-sized businesses in a number of European Union member states.

The Interest Group, a caucus for Members of the European Parliament (MEP) who support credit unions, held the meeting at the European Parliament’s Espace Léopold in Brussels. MEP Marian Harkin (Republic of Ireland), who is Co-Chair of the Interest Group, and MEP Paul Tang (the Netherlands), who is Vice-Chair of the Interest Group, engaged European Commission representatives and European Network of Credit Unions members on the challenges credit unions face when lending to small and medium-sized businesses as well as on the available European Union mechanisms to support increased credit union business lending.

Astrid Bartels, team leader for the European Commission’s programme for Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME), which is part of the Commission’s Directorate General on Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium-Enterprises, addressed the Interest Group to discuss COSME’s available loan guarantees for loans made to small and medium-sized businesses. COSME can issue guarantees that cover up to 50 percent of the losses on guaranteed business loans if the guarantees are used to help the lender increase its lending to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Georgie Friederichs, director of Samenwerkende Kredietunies (Dutch Association of Co-operating Credit Unions) in the Netherlands, presented to the Interest Group on Dutch credit unions’ lending to small and medium-enterprises. “Since 2008, bank lending to small and medium-enterprises has decreased in the Netherlands, especially for business loans that are in lower amounts, and Dutch business owners started forming credit unions to provide new sources of business credit to local communities,” said Friederichs. “Credit unions have become a good, safe base for lending to Dutch small and medium-sized enterprises that is helping to accelerate the growth of these businesses.”

Representatives of the Association of British Credit Unions, Ltd. (ABCUL), the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), the National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU) of Poland, and World Council of Credit Unions also shared their views with MEPs on how European Union policy can support increased credit union business lending in Europe.

From left: MEP Paul Tang, European Parliament, MEP Marian Harkin, European Parliament, Astrid Bartels, DG GROW (COSME), Georgie Friederichs, Vereniging Samenwerkende Kredietunies (VSK), and MEP Luke Ming Flanagan, European Parliament

About World Council of Credit Unions

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach. World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 90 countries. Worldwide, 87,914 credit unions in 118 countries serve 393 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at


Greg Neumann
WOCCU Director of Communications

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