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Analysis and opinion 09 May 2016

BBVA in the European capital

Like every May 9th, today marks the annual celebration of Europe Day in Brussels. This date commemorates the anniversary of the historic Schuman Declaration. Robert Schuman, then French Foreign Minister, presented his idea for a new form of political cooperation that would make another war among European nations unthinkable. That’s why this day is dedicated to peace and unity in Europe.

Europe Day commemorates the anniversary of the historic Schuman Declaration

Due to the country’s tradition of neutrality in European conflicts and taking advantage of its central geographic location in the European continent, Belgium was selected to host the main EU organisms since their inception in the 1950s. Brussels currently houses the European Council, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.

To manage the bank’s relations with these EU institutions, BBVA (Banco de Bilbao at the time) set up a European affairs coordination office in Brussels in 1986, the year Spain joined the EU. Currently, European Public Affairs (EPA) represents BBVA before the EU, which falls under the Global Institutional Relations Unit, led by Eva Piera. This unit is part of the Global Economic Regulation and Public Affairs (GERPA) area, led by BBVA Executive Director, José Manuel González-Páramo.

The EU is unique and complex. However, understanding and knowing how to navigate the EU institutional framework is essential. Decisions made at the European level have significant repercussions on all areas of activity, and of course, on the financial sector.

It is for this reason that the EPA’s mission is to understand the way EU institutions work and their decision-making processes and legislative procedures, and to engage in appropriate and strategic dialogue with them. We also work to become familiar with, and know how to best interact with the wide range of stakeholders (organisms, associations, federations, forums, think tanks, interest groups, etc.) that participate in European activities.The purpose is to position BBVA as a proactive actor, capable of promoting initiatives at the European level (regulatory or of another nature) consistent with our corporate philosophy and which open the door to new business opportunities.

In this regard, one of our strategic priorities is to support and contribute to the implementation of BBVA’s digital strategy by promoting a European legislative framework that makes the Group’s digital transformation possible.

Our presence in Brussels also allows us to provide BBVA the information needed to be able to react to important political and legal developments and position itself. This is especially relevant in a period with such intense legislative activity due to the financial crisis.

Topics that stand out as priorities for us include regulatory reform and the reform of supervision and bank resolution currently underway in Europe. The goal is to create an effective banking union that guarantees financial stability in Europe, as well as the promotion of new funding sources and European Commission support for cross-border investment within the framework of the Capital Markets Union.

Robert Schuman: Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity

Finally, EPA also has the fundamental goal of reinforcing the Group’s corporate reputation to foster the European regulator’s recognition of our business model as a factor that sets us apart. Promoting fundamental issues such as consumer protection, responsible business and the defense of core values in the financial sector represent our third pillar.

To achieve our goals we receive support from the unit we fall under, the Global Institutional Relations Unit, although it is crucial for us to interact with different areas across BBVA.

In his famous declaration on May 9, 1950, Robert Schuman said, “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.” We feel that the work of BBVA’s European affairs office should reflect more than the spirit of the Schuman declaration in the current context – marked by increasing eurosceptisism as a result of the global economic crisis. Through “concrete achievements” we hope to reinforce the single market as a fundamental driver of economic growth and well-being for the citizens of a caring and supportive Europe.

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