European Network of Credit Unions (ENCU) in Croatia to Urge Support for Financial Inclusion Measures
Advocacy critical to help support policy changes that would enable Croatian credit unions to better serve their members
September 27, 2023
ZAGREB, Croatia—The European Network of Credit Unions (ENCU) and World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) joined the Croatian Credit Union Association this week to convince key policymakers in Croatia’s capital to address the regulatory challenges preventing credit unions from maximizing their ability to reach underserved communities.
ENCU, comprised of eight European credit union associations and WOCCU, serves as a platform to exchange information between countries and speaks with one voice on European matters.
The group is urging several policy changes in Croatia, including a revision to arcane restrictions on advertising, providing needed deposit insurance in accordance with European Union (EU) standards and the ability to provide services to small businesses in a similar manner as other credit unions around the world.
Because of their cooperative nature, credit unions can often provide these services in areas where large banks sometimes choose not to compete—and often at prices lower than those of larger banks. Modest policy changes that will not affect the safety and soundness of these institutions could dramatically increase financial inclusion in Croatia.
“Allowing credit unions to serve small businesses would provide much needed financing to SMEs that will encourage an entrepreneurial culture and promote growth in Croatia. Many of these businesses are underserved by the banking communities and credit unions can fill a much-needed role,” said Andrew Price, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and General Counsel, European Network of Credit Unions.
“There is no good policy reason to prevent credit unions from advertising their services like any other business in Croatia. In fact, it is a barrier to providing responsible and affordable financial services to Croatians, particularly where many of them have no access,” said Zeljka Pirija-Benakovic, President of the Croatian Association of Credit Unions, which hosted the ENCU representatives.
The schedule this week included meetings with the Croatian Ministry of Finance, Croatian Parliament, Croatian National Bank and several other key policymakers. Members of ENCU shared their respective experiences from around the European Union.
ENCU was represented in Croatia this week by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU) of Poland, Croatian Association of Credit Unions (CACU), Federation of Romanian Credit Unions (FEDCAR), Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives (EUCC), North Macedonia's FULM Savings House and the Dutch Association of Cooperating Credit Unions (VSK). Representatives were also on hand from credit unions in Albania and the USAID Credit for Agriculture Producers (CAP) Project in Ukraine, a program administered by WOCCU since 2016.
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, 82,758 credit unions in 97 countries serve 404 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.