EU to help banks affected by COVID-19 to keep lending

Thursday 17 December 2020 13:54 CET | News

The European Union has planned to help banks jettison soured loans more easily and continue lending to households and business hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Reuters.

A lesson from the last financial crisis was that failing to tackle unpaid or ‘non-performing’ loans (NPLs) left banks unable to make loans, the lifeblood of recovery in a region such as Europe that relies heavily on banks for corporate funding. The volume of distressed loans is expected to rise in 2021, after the expiry of mortgage repayment holidays for households and relief measures for companies introduced when economies went into lockdown.

NPLs were 2.8% of loans at EU banks at the end of June 2020, up 0.2% from the fourth quarter of 2019. The European Central Bank has warned there could be a ‘huge wave’ of unpaid loans that could top EUR 1.4 trillion. Building on previous measures, the European Commission set out proposals for a more efficient market for soured loans by creating a network of national ‘bad banks’, underpinned by a central database to enhance transparency.

Bad banks buy bad loans, and the package should give sellers a wider choice of buyers. In time, the bad banks may be required to use a ‘template’ to ensure that NPL data is comparable across the EU. Brussels also wants more convergence in national insolvency rules, and is proposing that a bank buying bad loans should not have to set aside more capital than the seller. The EU package also clarifies the bloc’s rules on state aid to banks during economic shocks such as the pandemic, known as ‘precautionary measures’. Under this provision, no funds should be given to lenders already suffering problems. 

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Keywords: EU, banks, COVID-19, lending, Reuters, European Union, ECB, European Central Bank, European Commission, NPL, pandemic, loans
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Countries: Europe
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