The Russia-Ukraine war has claimed its first victim in the European banking system: Sberbank Europe AG, based in Vienna, Austria, and owned by the Russian Sberbank. Following the ECB's statement that Sberbank Europe AG and its subsidiaries in Croatia and Slovenia were in default - or likely to default - the Single Resolution Board (SRB), its resolution authority, had to intervene. 

Earlier this month, the SRB decided not to adopt a resolution for the parent company in Austria, considering that there was no public interest and that it would therefore fall under national insolvency procedures. However, a different solution had to be found for the subsidiaries in Croatia and Slovenia. All their shares were transferred to local banks in the respective country. 

In the ECON Committee of the European Parliament, members had the opportunity to ask Ms König, Chairperson of the Single Resolution Board (SRB), about the consequences that the war in Ukraine could have on the European banking system. Members asked for clarification on the assessment of the public interest in not solving the case of Sberbank Europe AG of Austria. Ms König pointed out that in Austria it was not considered a financial stability issue, whereas in the countries of its subsidiaries, the banks perform critical functions and have a major influence on the national banking system. 

MEPs also expressed concerns about deposit protection schemes, to which the SRB President replied that savers and depositors will be protected by the national Deposit Guarantee Schemes. She nevertheless stressed that a European system would bring more confidence and certainty to the EU banking system. 

In her own words, Ms König was "slightly optimistic" about the future, believing that banks are in a much better position than in the past to meet future challenges. 

 

By Helena Freitas