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Financial integration

When we talk about the degree of financial integration in the euro area, we are looking at the extent to which financial services are available under the same rules and conditions across the region. A well-integrated financial system implies that assets with the same risk-return characteristics have the same prices, irrespective of the country in which they are traded. This contributes to the uniform transmission of the ECB’s monetary policy across the euro area.

How does it affect you?

More advanced financial integration across euro area countries can mean that market participants have greater investment opportunities and are able to diversify financial risks beyond their national borders. Retail bank interest rates are more equal for consumers across borders and businesses may have easier access to money to expand. In sum, financial integration is important because it makes the European economy more efficient by ensuring a single European market for financial services.

What is the ECB’s role?

The ECB and the euro national central banks – the “Eurosystem” – are legally mandated to support financial integration in Europe. This is done by:

  • advising on the legislative and regulatory framework for the financial system
  • acting as a catalyst for private sector activities
  • providing central bank services that foster financial integration
  • carrying out in-depth analysis on the state of financial integration.

The results of these analyses are published every two years in a report on financial integration and structure in the euro area.

Developments in financial integration and structure in the euro area since 2017

The euro area financial system is becoming less dependent on banks and more reliant on other financial intermediaries.

The presence of fintech companies has expanded over the last decade, reflecting increasing competition in and modernisation of the financial system.

Cross-border integration has advanced in the field of large-value payments as banks based in different euro area countries are becoming more interconnected.