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The EU’s monetary intermediation industry still remains sluggish, growing by 2-3% per year in 2013-2014. Increasing regulation, slow economic growth and rather weak financial health is projected to remain among the major challenges for the European financial institutions in 2015.
Eurozone countries, in order to improve their banking activities, have established the banking union with common regulation and, by November 2014, the ECB had become the supervisor of all banks in the Eurozone area (around 6,000 in total). Increasing regulation is expected to continue to be seen in 2015 as well. The European Banking Authority will be increasingly focusing on risk assessment, which will remain a key priority for the European banking industry. Moreover, the development of the Single Rulebook and growing regulation in such areas as recovery and resolution, consumer protection and financial innovation will also continue throughout 2015.
Economic growth is projected to remain weak over 2015. Total GDP in the EU is expected to only grow by less than 2% in 2015, thus further creating strong pressure on the financial market. Restructuring will be one of the key factors for an improvement in the performance of banks. In order to increase profitability, banks will have to sell capital-intensive loss-making units and focus more on just a few of the most profitable market segments.
A total of 24 out of the 123 largest EU banks failed the stress test, coordinated by the European Banking Authority to measure the financial health of the EU banks by the end of 2013. The results of the stress test, published in October 2014, showed that the EU banks had a capital shortfall of close to EUR25 billion, meaning that close to 20% of the largest EU banks are not fully prepared for possible difficult economic conditions. As a result, following the instruction to cover the shortfalls, the year 2015 will remain challenging for the EU banks seeking to improve their financial health and cover their capital shortfalls.
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