5 Largest Banks in Europe in 2023 2

Biggest Banks in Europe

 The European banking sector is highly diverse and competitive, representing a complex system of large and small financial institutions that play a key role in the region’s economy. Europe’s largest banks have significant influence not only on their own economies, but also on the global financial system as a whole. Their assets are measured in trillions of euros and their branch networks cover many countries around the world.
HSBC 01 1

HSBC Holdings plc

HSBC, based in London, is one of the largest and best known banking and financial services organisations in the world. With a wide range of services covering retail and corporate banking, personal financial services, asset management and investment banking, HSBC demonstrates a significant presence both in Europe and on the international stage.
BNP Paribas 1

BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas, headquartered in Paris, France, is one of Europe’s leading banks, offering a wide range of financial services to both private and corporate clients. The Bank holds leading positions in such areas as retail banking, corporate and investment services, and asset management.
Deutsche Bank AG

Deutsche Bank AG

Deutsche Bank, based in Frankfurt, Germany, is one of the largest banking conglomerates in the world. It offers a variety of financial services, including corporate and investment banking, retail banking, and asset management and private banking.
Barclays plc

Barclays PLC

Barclays, headquartered in London, United Kingdom, is an international financial conglomerate with prominent positions in investment banking, credit cards, retail and commercial banking. Barclays is widely recognised for its innovative approaches in the provision of banking and financial services.

Société Générale

Société Générale

Société Générale, based in Paris, France, is active in various banking business segments, including retail banking in France and abroad, corporate and investment banking, and asset management.
UniCredit S.p.A.

UniCredit S.p.A.

UniCredit, headquartered in Milan, Italy, is one of the largest banking groups in Europe. It offers a broad range of financial services, including corporate and investment banking, retail banking and asset management, covering many European countries and beyond.

ING Group

ING Group

ING, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is known for its innovative approaches in retail banking and is one of the leaders in online banking services in Europe and globally. ING is also active in corporate finance and asset management.

Conclusion: Europe’s largest banks play an important role not only in the continent’s economies but also in the global financial system, providing a wide range of services to support international trade, investment and economic development. These financial institutions continue to adapt to changing market requirements and technological innovations to provide high quality and affordable financial services to their customers around the world.

Biggest investment banks in Europe

Investment banks occupy a key position in the European financial industry, providing a wide range of services, from corporate finance and M&A to asset management and brokerage. Europe’s largest investment banks play an important role not only in the region’s economies, but also in the global financial market, offering innovative and comprehensive solutions for corporate clients, governments and individuals.

1. Barclays Investment Bank

Headquartered in London, Barclays Investment Bank is one of the leading players in the investment banking market. Part of the larger financial conglomerate Barclays PLC, the investment bank offers services in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, securities trading and asset management, serving clients worldwide.

2. BNP Paribas Corporate and Institutional Banking

BNP Paribas, headquartered in Paris, France, is a leading investment bank in Europe. Its Corporate and Institutional Banking division provides comprehensive financial solutions for corporate and institutional clients, including mergers and acquisitions, risk management, project finance and capital markets services.

3. Deutsche Bank Corporate & Investment Bank

Deutsche Bank, headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany, is one of the world’s leading investment banks. Its Corporate & Investment Bank division provides services in corporate finance, M&A, capital markets, trading and investment banking, serving as a bridge between investors and companies around the world.

4. UBS Investment Bank

UBS, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, is one of the largest banks in the world with a prominent presence in investment banking. UBS Investment Bank offers M&A, advisory, capital and debt market services, as well as trading and brokerage services to institutional, corporate and private clients.

5. Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse, based in Zurich, provides a broad range of investment banking services and is a leader in asset management. The Bank specialises in services for corporate, government and institutional clients, including mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, financial advisory and capital markets services.

6. Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking

Société Générale, headquartered in Paris, offers comprehensive investment banking services, including M&A advisory services, corporate finance management, market operations and investment solutions to a wide range of clients worldwide.

Conclusion: Europe’s largest investment banks play an important role in supporting economic growth and development by providing critical financial services and advice to corporate, institutional and private clients. Their activities facilitate the integration of European markets with the global financial system, providing access to capital, liquidity and investment opportunities. In an ever-changing economic environment, these institutions continue to adapt to new challenges, offering innovative solutions to meet the needs of their clients.

In Europe, several of the world’s largest and most renowned banks have been successful in providing a range of financial products and services to individuals, corporations, and governments. In this article, Regulated United Europe employees would like to highlight which European banks are the largest on the continent in 2023, what their total assets, their history, and impact on the global financial system. Below is a description of the top 5 banks in Europe by the volume of total assets.

Largest European banks

HSBC 01 11. HSBC

British financial institution HSBC Holdings PLC is the largest bank in Europe in terms of assets, with a total balance sheet of 2.6 trillion euros. HSBC is a British multinational bank and financial services company operating in over 60 countries. Its full name is HSBC Holdings PLC. The bank offers a wide range of services including commercial and investment banking, asset management.

HSBC was founded in 1865 in Hong Kong by a Scottish man named Thomas Sutherland. The Bank played a vital role in facilitating trade between Europe and Asia and soon became one of the world’s largest banks. In the early twentieth century, this banking structure expanded its operations to Europe and North America. In the 1960s and 1970s, HSBC became one of the first banks to offer electronic banking services.

Today, HSBC is known for its global presence and expertise in international banking. It is a major player in the Asian market, but its operations in Europe, America, and the Middle East are also significant. HSBC is committed to sustainable development and has become a leader in green finance, investing in renewable energy and supporting sustainable business practices.

BNP Paribas 12. BNP Paribas

The second-largest bank in Europe is the French multinational banking institution BNP Paribas, with a total asset of about €2.5 trillion as of the end of 2022. BNP Paribas is one of the largest banks in the world and operates in 72 countries, focusing on retail banking, corporate banking and investment banking.

BNP Paribas was formed in 2000 by the merger of Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) and Paribas. BNP was founded in 1966 and operated retail banking, while Paribas operated it in 1872. Its main business was banking investment. Today, BNP Paribas is the market leader in Europe with a strong presence in France, Italy and Belgium, North Africa and the Middle East.

BNP Paribas is committed to sustainable financing. The Entity has made significant investments in renewable energy and other environmentally sound projects.

The Bank has also become a leader in social finance in Europe, investing in projects that benefit communities and promote social integration.

Crédit Agricole Group3. Crédit Agricole Group

The third-largest bank in Europe at the beginning of 2023 – French

Crédit Agricole Group, a multinational bank with a total asset of about €2.35 trillion. Crédit Agricole is a cooperative banking institution operating within a decentralized network of regional banks. The bank provides a range of financial services, including retail and corporate banking, as well as asset management.

Crédit Agricole was founded in 1894 as a cooperative bank providing financial services to farmers in rural France. Today, it has become one of the world’s largest banks and operates in more than 50 countries. Crédit Agricole has become a leader in sustainable financing and has invested heavily in renewable energy, green bonds and other environmentally friendly projects.

Barclays plc4. Barclays PLC

Barclays PLC is a multinational banking and financial services company headquartered in London. It is one of the largest banks in the world, with operations in more than 40 countries. It employs approximately 83,500 employees. Total assets of Barclays PLC at the end of 2022 amounted to 1.65 trillion euros.

Barclays offers a range of financial products and services, including:

  • banking services for individuals and legal entities;
  • investment banking services;
  • asset management.

The company is also present in the digital banking sector through its Barclays Digital Banking division.

Barclays was founded in 1690 and has a long history of mergers and acquisitions. In recent years, the company has faced a number of litigation, including allegations of currency manipulation and involvement in the Libor scandal, but the bank has taken steps to address these concerns and improve its reputation.

Banco Santander5. Banco Santander

The fifth-largest bank in Europe is Banco Santander, a Spanish multinational banking institution with a total asset of around €1.6 trillion as of the end of 2022. Banco Santander operates in 10 major markets, including the UK, Spain and Brazil, and provides a range of standard financial services.

Banco Santander was founded in 1857 in the Spanish town of Santander and initially focused on providing commercial banking services to the local community. Today, the bank has expanded its operations around the world and has become a major player in the European market. In addition, Banco Santander has a significant presence in Latin America, being one of the largest banks in the region.

The Bank was committed to sustainable development and had invested heavily in renewable energy and other green projects.  It also aims to promote financial inclusion and develops programmes to help low-income people access financial services.

The Situation in Europe’s Largest Banks in 2023

Now, Europe’s five largest banks are under new pressure. They are asked to stop financing the fossil fuel industry (oil, natural gas and hard coal) as part of a campaign organized by investors who control $1.5 trillion.

Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, and Société Générale face severe criticism of their investments in fossil fuels.

According to a study published by the ShareAction Group, these banks were the largest lenders to Europe’s leading oil and gas companies since HSBC between 2016 and 2021.

Letters have now been sent to each of them from a group of institutional investors urging them to stop direct financing of new oil and gas fields by the end of this year. The letters were written by a group of 30 investors, coordinated by ShareAction, which includes Candriam, La Française Asset Management and Brunel Pension Partnership.

Renewed investor pressure on European banks is triggered by the announcement by NatWest (Scotland) on February 9 that it will cease lending based on reserves to new customers funding oil and gas exploration and production, although it will continue to provide this type of funding to existing clients over the next three years.

In the letter, investors expressed concern that new oil and gas fields could jeopardize the global path to zero CO2 yield and run counter to banks’ own objectives.

A similar investor campaign against HSBC led Europe’s largest bank and its chief financier of major oil and gas companies to announce in December 2022, that they will no longer directly fund new oil and gas fields after months of ongoing pressure from shareholder activists coordinated by ShareAction.

In their last letter, investors warned Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank and Société Générale that their activities were holding back the revolution in renewable energy in Europe.

Europe’s banks are on Wall Street in terms of bond trading For the fifth consecutive quarter, Europe’s banks are on par with Wall Street’s debt-trading rivals, increasing their earnings by almost 30%.

Six of Europe’s leading investment banks, especially Barclays Plc and Deutsche Bank AG, are expected to show an average 29% increase in bond and currency transactions over the last quarter of 2022. This figure is slightly higher than the pool of revenues in US banks, according to analysts from Bloomberg.

Average values do not include Credit Suisse Group AG, which is expected to demonstrate a significant decline in trading revenue as it folds as part of a broader reorganization.

Europe’s largest banks see the benefits of rapid interest rate hikes by central banks in their fight against inflation, which extends to both bond trading and the traditional savings and credit business. For fixed-income European traders, 2022 should have given some breathing space, or perhaps even a turning point, after years of losing market share to larger American competitors.

History of banking

The history of banking dates back to the 7th century BC. It is believed that already then there were usurers in Babylon. And even the first bank notes – hudu (hudu), which had the same circulation as gold.

It is known that in Ancient Greece there were money changers – trapezites. They exchanged coins and accepted money for safekeeping. Also, the first non-cash payments were made there by charging and debiting customers’ accounts. That is, the first cash and settlement service was carried out. In addition, ancient Greek temples provided loans from the savings that were stored in them.

Already in the 2nd century BC in a number of metropolises, such as Thebes, Hermontis, Memphis and Siena, there were so-called royal banks, where funds from tax collection and income from state enterprises were accumulated. The money was spent on public needs, such as paying soldiers’ salaries.

In Ancient Rome, banking activities were carried out by mensarii and argentarii. The former specialised in the exchange of coins. The latter specialised in raising funds and issuing loans, as well as money transfers between cities.

In the Middle Ages, the demand for bankers’ services increased significantly: there were many different coins in circulation, which had to be changed for trade. The word “bank” was derived from the name of the bench where the changers sat. Banco in Italian means “bench”, “bench”. At that time, bankers were already engaged not only in exchange, but also in maintaining customer accounts and non-cash payments.

The Catholic Church was known to be opposed to charging interest, so banking in the Middle Ages became the prerogative of mostly Jews. Pope Alexander III declared at the Third Lateran Council in 1179 that those who charged interest should be deprived of communion and Christian burial. Bankers were persecuted in France under Louis the Saint and Philip the Beautiful, and in England under Henry III. What is interesting is that sometimes exiled bankers bought the right to return to the country, and this became a source of income for governments. In Italy in the 1460s, the so-called montes pietatis emerged – specialised institutions that collected donations and made small loans to the needy at an interest rate that was only supposed to be enough to cover their own expenses.

One of the first banks is considered to be a partnership created in the Republic of Genoa, which was given the function of collecting certain taxes to finance the wars in Algeria and Tunisia in 1147. It existed until 1816 and, among other services, accepted private deposits. The first public bank was the Vapso della Piaza de Rialto, created by the Senate of the Republic of Venice in 1584.

In 1609, the Amsterdam Bank was opened. It is famous for introducing such a concept as “bank florin” – a monetary unit equal to a certain weight of pure silver, into which all accepted coins were converted. The Englishman William Peterson, studying the activities of the Amsterdam Bank, made a discovery: a bank does not necessarily have to have real 100 per cent reserves of precious metal to cover its own liabilities. According to Peterson’s project, in 1694 the first in modern understanding emission bank responsible for the issue of paper money was created – the Bank of England. Its capital was placed in government securities, which were the collateral for the banknotes issued.

History of European banking

The word “bank” comes from the Italian word “banco”, which means the table on which medieval moneychangers laid out coins. The monetary system of Ancient Rome was created mainly by people from Greece. Therefore, they developed mainly the Greek monetary system. In Ancient Rome, argentarii (people who performed monetary transactions) formed associations in which the entrepreneurial risk was shared among all participants. The associations levied taxes, accepted deposits, participated in the sale of goods at public auction, handled inheritance cases, and acted as witnesses in marriage contracts. The number of money shops strictly corresponded to the number of argentarii. The other specialists were not authorised to carry out credit operations and were engaged in bartering.

The state, as a counterbalance to the temples, actively supported the associations, creating its own money funds for this purpose. The secular and spiritual authorities, supported by public opinion, constantly opposed high interest rates and favoured their restriction or prohibition. The Roman Pope Leo the Great (V century) extended the canonical prohibition of interest to all Christians. The Byzantine emperor Justinian (6th century) limited the upper limit of interest: 8 per cent for merchants and 6 per cent for others.

The state and the church carried out commission and settlement operations on domestic and international payments, trade and commission operations (buying and selling foreign coins and precious metals), issuing sureties, guarantees, giving consultations, trust operations, including accounting services.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, the role of the associations of the cities of Northern Italy increased. However, they were overshadowed by the activities of moneylenders, who were disliked by society and whose aim was not to develop the economy (lending to trade, crafts, construction, etc.), but simply to increase money.

The distinction between usurious and credit transactions occurred with the appearance of credit money (bills of exchange) and operations on accounting of bills of exchange on their basis. In Italy, bills of exchange were valid for a relatively short time. In Venice the transfer inscription on the bill of exchange was forbidden in 1593.

In Venice, the first private partnership of a closed type, similar to a deposit bank, was formed in 1171 on the basis of a mutual partnership. Later on, private partnerships were created and operated in competition with trading houses.

Since the 13th century, the activities of a partnership (bank) were strictly regulated by the city authorities. It was obliged to make a deposit, was restricted in operations and the amount of money. The partnership was fully under the supervision of city institutions. Members of partnerships were thoroughly checked by the Senate.

This close proximity to the city authorities led to the ruin of many partnerships forced to finance Venice’s costly wars. The strongest of them survived, spreading their branches across Europe.

In 1619, a public partnership in Venice was named girobank (from Latin giro – “turnover”). Its main operations were payments in coin and securities of the partnership. The latter ensured the restriction of the circle of clients, the personal presence of the client at the order of the girobank, and the appearance of a cash register to meet the demands of depositors.

Gradually, Italian comradeships spread their influence and working methods throughout Europe.

Netherlands. In Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, the centre of international trade of the XVII-XVIII centuries, the process of formation of the banking sphere was particularly intensive.

The monetary system of the Netherlands developed in competition with the institution of private cashiers and the city’s state exchange bank. To serve international trade, cashiers were created in Amsterdam to replace money changers. Cashiers were engaged in lending to merchants on a fee basis, as well as in money changers’ business. In 1609, the city authorities established a change bank to separate the lending and changing functions. It was engaged in the exchange of coins and monitored the quality of money, dividing all coins into full and spoilt (erased, lower weight).

The activities of the change bank and its competition with the cashiers allowed the minting of the city’s own coin, the guilder, from 1681. The change bank was transformed into a deposit and transfer bank, whose main task was to select good coins. However, even good money did not have a solid metal content, and their rate was kept on the authority of the bank. The exchange rate of the bank’s securities – receipts (rezepiss), which were issued in exchange for the deposits stored in coin, was also maintained in the same way.

In order to strengthen the reliability of money and securities, the bank began to practice securing loans with precious metals. The bank also actively participated in operations with its receipts, buying and selling securities in periods of price hikes. At the same time, the bank used these securities in bill circulation, becoming the centre of bill circulation.

Germany. The experience of Amsterdam’s banking system was used in other major European cities, such as the German cities of Lübeck and Hamburg.

In other German cities the prototypes of banks were formed on the basis of branches of Italian trading houses. These were general partnerships or partnerships in trust. The activity of the German trading houses was less regulated than that of the Italian ones and was limited to raising funds from feudal lords and merchants and lending them money.

France. To organise money circulation and banks, Huguenots – professionals of bill and cashless circulation – were invited from France to some German principalities. With their help, the first artisan bank was established.

European Central Bank history

The European Central Bank (ECB) is a financial institution of the European Union that regulates monetary policy of the euro area member states. It is headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The ECB was officially established in 1998 on the basis of the Amsterdam Agreement of 1997. However, the process of its creation began quite a long time ago. After the Second World War, the unification of Europe and the formation of a single market space began. In 1947-1957, the integration of the states of the region took place, and the European Payments Union emerged. In 1957, the largest countries of Europe united into the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1979, the conventional monetary unit ECU was introduced for mutual settlements, the exchange rate of which was linked to a basket of European currencies. In 1988, a memorandum was signed “On the Establishment of a European Monetary Area and a European Central Bank”. In 1992, an international treaty establishing the European Union was concluded in Maahstricht. In January 1994, in accordance with this agreement, the European Monetary Institute was established in Frankfurt am Main to prepare the transition to the euro single currency. In 1998 it was transformed into the European Central Bank. Today the ECB is a special legal entity operating on the basis of international agreements. Its authorised capital at its creation amounted to more than 5 billion euros, the shareholders are the central banks of European countries. The largest contributions were made by Deutsche Bundesbank – 18.9 per cent, Bank of France – 14.2 per cent, Bank of Italy – 12.5 per cent and Bank of Spain – 8.3 per cent. The shares of other Eurozone central banks are 0.1-3.9 per cent each.

The ECB’s highest body is the Governing Council, which consists of the members of the Executive Board and the heads of the central banks of the euro area member states. The day-to-day management of the bank’s activities is vested in the executive board, which consists of six members, including the chairman and his deputy. Their nominations are proposed by the board of governors and must be endorsed by the European Parliament as well as the heads of euro area member states.

The main functions of the European Central Bank are:

  • maintaining economic stability in the eurozone, primarily an inflation rate of no more than 2%;
  • formulation and implementation of monetary policy in the euro area;
  • management of foreign exchange reserves;
  • euro issue;
  • setting interest rates.

To carry out these functions, the ECB in practice provides stabilisation loans, conducts collateral auctions for leading banks, engages in foreign exchange operations, and carries out other open market transactions.

The European Central Bank is formally independent in its activities. At the same time, it must report annually to the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the Council of Europe.

European Central Bank functions

Since 1999, eleven EU Member States have started their transition to the third stage of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) within the European Union. The establishment of EMU implies not only close coordination and, to a certain extent, harmonisation of budgetary and economic policies of the Member States, but also the introduction of a single monetary unit – the euro, as well as the definition and implementation of a common monetary policy of such Member States. It is not by chance that many scholars consider EMU to be “the highest stage of economic integration”. At this stage of integration, Member States transfer their competences to the European Community authorities in some of the most sensitive issues – the implementation and regulation of monetary issuance and the implementation of monetary policy. This transfer of national competences and the resulting limitation of national sovereignty of the Member States in such areas leads to a fundamental change in the role and powers of the EU. Moreover, the process of such transfer of national competences of the Member States leads to the de facto loss of their competence to implement monetary and emission policies, which is enshrined in the constitutions of almost all EU Member States.

As is widely known, the main structure within which all the “monetary” components of the Economic and Monetary Union function and which determines and implements the common monetary policy of the European Community, in accordance with the Treaty establishing the European Community, is the European System of Central Banks (ESCB), which came into existence in accordance with Article 8 of the Treaty. Below we will look at what the ECCB is and how it functions.

In accordance with Article 107 of the Treaty, the ECB consists of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the national central banks of the Member States. This Article is complemented by Art. 14 (3) of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and the European Central Bank, which states that the national central banks shall be an integral part of the ECB. Art. 8 of the Statute states that the basic principle of the organisation of the ESCB is that its functioning is ensured by the decision-making bodies of the ECB. In general, as it is noted by some scholars, “the European Central Bank is the backbone of the European System of Central Banks”. The most important features of the ECB are that the ECB is governed by the ECB’s governing bodies, that the powers of the ECB are also exercised by the ECB, and that, unlike the ECB and the national central banks of the member states, the ECB is not a legal entity.

The absence of a legal status, its own independent governing bodies and the possibility of independent exercise of powers allowed to put forward several points of view on the legal nature of an ESCB. One point of view says that an ESCB is a system of legal entities (central banks) governed by common goals, objectives and rules. Close to this is Dominique Servais, who believes that the word “System” in the notion of the European System of Central Banks should be understood “not as a designation of a legal entity, but as an expression denoting the ECB and the national central banks as constituent parts of a certain entity which is governed by a collection of goals, objectives and rules”. Servais explains that, from his point of view, this interpretation avoids the apparent contradiction between the principles of centralisation and decentralisation that he assigns to the ECB. This is because such a system, on the one hand, guarantees the centralisation of the decision-making process necessary for the implementation of a common monetary policy and, on the other hand, allows for the decentralisation of operations that are carried out in pursuance of a common monetary policy either by the ECB or by national central banks.

Peisa and Vehmas write that “the concept of the ESCB is that of a single community, consisting of the ECB and national central banks, aimed at realising its goals and objectives”. The authoritative commentary on the Treaty on European Community edited by Campbell says that: “The European System of Central Banks is a combination of the ECB and national central banks. But only the ECB is a legal entity. The ECB is governed by the organs of the ECB. In other words, the ESCB is nothing more than a cloak thrown over the ECB, carrying no meaning other than semantic disguise of the hierarchy established between the ECB and the national central banks.”

Thus, we see that the majority of scholars do not recognise any independent and only one inherent essence or function for the ECB. In my opinion, we can speak about the ECB as a name of the system of certain relations between the ECB and national central banks in the framework of achieving their goals and objectives set for the ECB. At the same time, the dominant role in these relations belongs to the ECB, while the national central banks of the member states play a rather subordinate role in it. This has enabled some scholars to say that “Existing national central banks become branches of the ECB with a status similar to individual federal reserve banks within the Federal Reserve System”. At the same time, the subordinate role of national bodies in relation to EU bodies in general is characteristic of legal relations between EU member states and EU institutions. Thus V.V. Maklakov noted that “it is impossible not to see that the bodies of the member states are in a subordinate position in relation to the EU bodies”. Such understanding of the ECB gives us the possibility not to separate it from the ECB and national central banks, because without them the ECB represents nothing, and to emphasise what the name ECB was created for – a unified and orderly system of relations between the ECB and the national central banks of the member states.

What is the purpose of the establishment of the ESCB? Art. 105 (1) of the Treaty and Art. 2 of the Statute, which echoes it verbatim, clearly define these objectives. The main one is the maintenance of price stability. In fulfilling all its other objectives and performing its functions, the ESCB must first and foremost be concerned with the fulfilment of this objective. Only without conflicting with its primary objective should the ESCB fulfil its second objective, namely to support the general economic policy of the Community with a view to achieving the Community objectives set out in Article 2 of the Treaty. The ESCB shall realise these objectives on the basis of the principles of an open market economy with free competition, the principles laid down in Article 4 of the Treaty and by promoting the efficient allocation of resources.

In order to fulfil these objectives, the tasks of the ESCB are: to determine and implement the Community’s foreign exchange policy; to conduct international exchange operations in accordance with the provisions of Article 111 of the Treaty; to hold and administer the official foreign exchange reserves of the Member States; to promote the proper functioning of the payments system; to assist the competent authorities in pursuing a policy of prudent supervision of credit institutions and the stability of the financial system.

As already emphasised above, in addition to common goals and objectives, the elements of the ECB are united by a rigid hierarchical structure of legal relations between the national central banks of the Member States and the ECB. The role of national central banks within the ECB is perfectly illustrated by Articles 9.2, 12.1, 14.3 and 34 of the Statute, according to which they are obliged to act within the framework of regulations adopted by the ECB. However, the ECB’s internal regulations are the most important. Such regulations include the guidelines adopted by the Governing Council, the guidelines adopted exclusively by the Executive Committee and the internal decisions adopted by both bodies. As these legal acts are binding only on the ECB and the national central banks that have entered the third phase of EMU, they do not confer any rights or impose any obligations on other third parties. In turn, non-compliance by national central banks of Member States that have moved to the third stage of EMU with the core benchmarks and guidelines may lead to a review of such non-compliance by the Court of Justice of the EU. The differences between the basic guidelines and indications lie not only in the authorities that adopt them, but also in the issues they address. Core Guidelines are legal acts designed to define and consolidate the policy of the ESCB. They contain the main framework provisions and basic rules to be followed by both the ECB and national central banks. As an example of the basic guidelines adopted by the Governing Council, we can cite the European Central Bank’s Basic Guidelines of 1 December 1998 on statistical reporting requirements for the European Central Bank in the field of balance of payments and international investment position statistics (EEU/1998/17).

In contrast to the Core Guidelines, the guidelines adopted by the Executive Committee are designed to ensure the implementation of the Core Guidelines and the decisions of the Governing Council and provide specific detailed guidance to national central banks.

Internal decisions are taken by both the Management Board and the Executive Committee in their areas of competence. They have legal force within the ESCB and deal with administrative and organisational matters. An example of such an internal decision is the European Central Bank Decision of 3 November 1998 on public access to the records and archives of the European Central Bank (ECB/1998/12).

In addition, in accordance with Art. 31. of the Statute, in carrying out their activities, national central banks must comply with the foreign currency reserve asset limit set by the ECB or seek the ECB’s consent to modify this criterion.

It should be noted that the dominance of the ECB and of the legal relations developed within the framework of the ESCB is also reflected in the fact that, in order to join the euro area, Member States had to modify the legal position of their central banks in such a way as to guarantee their central banks a sufficient degree of independence as provided for in the Statute of the ESCB and to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities within the ESCB. This has enabled some scholars to speak of a “direct harmonisation” of the legal position of central banks. As a result, almost all Member States have either adopted new central bank laws (Belgium in March 1999, Finland in March 1998, the Netherlands in 1998) or amended their existing ones (Germany in 1997, Ireland in 1998, France in May 1998, Greece in 1998, Portugal in 1998, Spain in 1994, Sweden in 1998). In order to effect such a change in the legal position of national central banks and to ensure the legitimacy of the fulfilment of the commitments undertaken within the EMU framework, a number of Member States had to amend their constitutional documents accordingly (France, Germany, the United Kingdom (the European Communities Act as amended and the Bank of England Act), Finland, Portugal, Sweden). In addition, even Member States that have not yet decided whether to join the third stage of the Economic and Monetary Union have adopted regulations in favour of greater independence of their central banks (Bank of England Act 1997). Finally, in order to ensure a successful transition to the third stage of EMU, Luxembourg, by the law of 23 December 1998, established a central bank for the first time in its history.

The ECB Statute also provides for the dominance of the ECB over national central banks in international relations. Thus, according to Art. 6.1 of the Statute, it is the ECB that decides how the ECB will be represented on the international scene, while Art. 6.2 of the Statute states that national central banks may only participate in international monetary bodies with the consent of the ECB. Article 6.2 of the Statute states that national central banks may participate in international monetary bodies only with the consent of the ECB. The ECB itself does not require such consent from anyone. National banks cannot independently go beyond the powers granted to them by the Statute. In order for them to fulfil other functions, the Governing Council of the ECB must decide by a two-thirds vote that they are not incompatible with the aims and objectives of the ECB (Art. 14.4 of the Statute). But even such functions are performed by them under their own responsibility and are not regarded as part of the functions of the ECB.

To complete the picture, the ECB has the ability to compel national central banks to fulfil their responsibilities. This possibility stems from the provisions of Art. 35.6 of the Statute, which gives the ECB the right to bring such actions before the Court of Justice of the EU. However, some scholars note the similarity of this right of the ECB to the rights of the EU Commission in relation to EU Member States under Article 226 of the Treaty.

I would like to reiterate that the European System of Central Banks does not and cannot exist on its own, without the ECB and the national central banks of the Member States. Accordingly, the aims and objectives of the ECB are no more than the aims and objectives of the relationship between the ECB and the national central banks of the Member States. The fact that, in accordance with Article 8 of the Statute and Article 107(3) of the Treaty, it is the governing bodies of the ECB – the Governing Council and the Executive Committee – that administer the entire European System of Central Banks means that the aims and objectives of the ECB are realised by the ECB and the national central banks under the direction of the ECB bodies and it is the ECB, through its governing bodies, that plays the leading role in this relationship. However, the governors of national central banks, who are members of the Governing Council, represent themselves, at least de jure, and not their national central banks.

Above we have considered the composition and functions of the ESCB and the role played by national central banks and the ECB in the ESCB. The two-year experience of the ESCB shows that despite the complexity of the system, the ESCB has proved to be quite workable. However, such a period is rather short. Only the future will show to what extent the institutional features of the ECB will allow the European Community to adapt to the changing economic situation, effectively implement a common monetary policy of the Community and at least partially harmonise the economic cycles of the member states.


Europe is home to some of the world’s largest and most prominent banks, which play a crucial role in the global financial system. These banks operate in many countries and provide a range of financial products and services to individuals, corporations, and governments. Although each has its own unique history, operations and influence, they are all committed to sustainable development, financial inclusion and responsible banking practices. As the financial industry continues to grow, these banks will undoubtedly play a central role in shaping the future of the world economy.

The rating of the largest banks in Europe helps potential customers to determine which structure to turn for banking services. Regulated United Europe offers comprehensive services for opening bank accounts in Europe for both personal and corporate use. Contact our banking specialist and get a free initial consultation today.

If you are interested in opening your own bank/electronic money institution in Europe, our lawyers can help you obtain a license or purchase a ready-made company with an EMI license in Europe.

.Also, lawyers from Regulated United Europe provide legal support for crypto projects and help with adaptation to MICA regulations.


Switzerland has the largest number of banks in Europe, given its prominence as a global financial centre and long history of banking.

Banks with the largest number of customers in Europe include large financial institutions such as HSBC, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Banco Santander.

European banks offer a wide range of financial products and services to private customers, including:

Bank accounts and cards:

  • Current accounts for day-to-day financial transactions.
  • Interest rate savings accounts for savings.
  • Fixed-term deposits with a fixed interest rate.
  • Debit and credit cards for purchases and cash withdrawals.

Loans and Financing:

  • Consumer loans for personal needs, such as the purchase of durable goods.
  • Mortgage loans for the purchase of property.
  • Car loans for car purchases.
  • Credit lines and overdrafts for short-term financing.

Investment products and asset management:

  • Mutual funds and mutual funds.
  • Stocks and bonds for direct investment.
  • Retirement accounts and long-term savings products.
  • Private banking and asset management services for high net worth clients.


  • Life and health insurance to protect against unexpected events.
  • Property and car insurance.
  • Travel insurance to protect you while travelling.

Payment and transfer services:

  • Online banking for managing your finances over the internet.
  • International transfers and payments.
  • E-wallet systems and mobile payments.

This list is not exhaustive, and specific offerings may vary from bank to bank and country to country. European banks continue to develop and introduce new financial products to meet the diverse needs of their customers in a changing economic and technological landscape.

European banks offer business customers a variety of financial products and services to meet their specific needs for wealth management, financing, investments and day-to-day operations. Here are some of the main financial products and services available to businesses:

Bank accounts for business:

  • Current accounts for daily operations and cash flow management.
  • Savings accounts and deposits for surplus liquidity with interest earned.

Loans and Financing:

  • Short-term loans to cover working capital.
  • Long-term loans to finance asset acquisition, business expansion or investment.
  • Credit lines and overdrafts for flexible access to additional funds.
  • Leasing and factoring as alternative methods of financing.

Payment services and cash flow management:

  • Electronic payment systems for processing incoming and outgoing payments.
  • Cash flow and liquidity management, including cache management services.
  • International payments and exchange control.

Investment products and asset management:

  • Investment advice and portfolio management.
  • Corporate bonds and equities to raise capital through the financial markets.
  • Retirement plans and employee benefit programmes.

Insurance and risk management:

  • Property and liability insurance to protect your business from loss.
  • Credit and export insurance.
  • Financial risk management products, including derivative financial instruments.

Corporate banking and related services:

  • Mergers and acquisitions, financial advisory services.
  • Issuing securities and organising an IPO.
  • Syndicated lending for large projects and investments.

These products and services help businesses to grow, expand and manage financial risks, while ensuring that resources are effectively managed and cash flows are optimised. Individual banks may offer specialised products tailored to specific industries or business types.

Opening a personal European bank account can vary from country to country and bank to bank, but there is a general process that usually involves the following steps:

Selecting a bank and type of account:

  • Research different banks and their offerings to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider factors such as terms of service, account maintenance costs, availability of online banking, interest rates and customer reviews.
  • Decide on the type of account you need (e.g. current account, savings account, foreign exchange account).

Document preparation:

  • Opening an account usually requires a valid passport or national identification document, proof of residential address (such as a utility bill or bank statement), and sometimes proof of income or employment.
  • Some banks may ask for a tax identification number (TIN).


  • You can apply for an account online through the bank's website, in person at a branch or, in some cases, by post.
  • During the application process, you will need to provide your personal details, information about your financial situation and the purpose for opening the account.

Verification and Approval:

  • The bank will verify the documents you provide and may request additional information or documents.
  • As part of Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) measures, the bank will assess any potential risks associated with opening your account.

Account Activation:

  • Once your application is approved and successfully verified, your account will be activated and you can start using it.
  • The bank will provide you with the necessary bank details, access to online banking (if applicable) and bank cards or cheque books if requested.

Account Usage:

  • Once your account is activated, you can deposit and withdraw funds, make payments, transfers and use other banking services.

It is important to note that for non-residents the account opening process may be more complicated and require additional documentation. In addition, the terms and conditions and document requirements may change, so it is recommended to contact the bank in advance and clarify the current requirements and account opening procedure.

Opening a business account with a European bank is a key step for doing business in Europe and requires careful preparation and submission of the necessary documents. Here is a general process to help you open a business account with a European bank:

  1. Selecting a bank and account type
  • Research different banks to find the one that offers the services and terms that best suit your business. Consider aspects such as account maintenance fees, availability of international transfers, credit lines, online banking options and quality of customer service.
  • Determine the type of account you need based on the size and needs of your business. Some banks offer specialised accounts for SMEs, start-ups, and specific industries.
  1. Preparation of documents
  • The main documents for opening a business account include the company's constituent documents (articles of association, registration documents), documents confirming the identity and powers of persons authorised to act on behalf of the company (passports, appointments), and documents confirming the company's registration and tax status.
  • It is also important to prepare a business plan and financial projections, as some banks may request these documents to assess the business model and potential risks.
  1. Submitting an application
  • You can apply for an account online by visiting the official website of the selected bank, or in person by visiting a bank branch. During the application process, you will need to fill in an application form and provide all the necessary documents.
  1. Verification and approval
  • After the application is submitted, the bank will conduct a verification procedure (KYC and AML procedures) and evaluate the documents and business information provided. This process may take from a few days to a few weeks.
  1. Account activation
  • Once your application is approved and successfully verified, your business account will be activated. The bank will provide you with all necessary bank details and tools to manage your account, including access to online banking.
  1. Use of the account
  • With your business account activated, you can start making transactions related to your business, including receiving payments from customers, paying suppliers, managing tax payments, etc.


  • Contact the bank in advance to clarify the list of required documents and conditions for opening an account.
  • Consider consulting with a lawyer or accountant, especially if your business is complex or you plan to do business in multiple jurisdictions.

Each bank and jurisdiction may have unique requirements and procedures, so it's important to thoroughly research and prepare for the account opening process.

Ordering a credit card from a European bank for an individual involves several steps that may vary depending on the specific bank and country. Here is the general process:

  1. Choosing a bank and credit card
  • Research different banks and their credit card offers, comparing terms and conditions such as annual fee, interest rate, grace period, credit limit, bonus or cashback accumulation options, and additional benefits and insurances.
  • Choose the credit card that best suits your needs and financial situation.
  1. Preparation of documents
  • A credit card order usually requires you to provide:
    • A valid passport or other identification document.
    • Proof of residential address (e.g. utility bill).
    • A certificate of income or other documents proving your ability to repay the loan.
  • In some cases, additional documents may be required, such as tax returns or proof of employment.
  1. Submitting an application
  • Online: Many banks offer the option to apply for a credit card online using their websites or mobile apps.
  • At a bank branch: You can also visit a bank branch in person to apply and submit the required documents.
  • Fill in the application form with the required information about yourself and the selected credit card.
  1. Verification and approval
  • The bank will check your creditworthiness and may ask for additional information or documents.
  • This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the bank and its procedures.
  1. Receipt and activation of the card
  • Once your application is approved, the bank will mail the credit card to your home address or offer to pick it up at a branch.
  • Activating your card usually requires you to call your bank or use online banking.


  • Carefully review the terms and conditions of the credit card, including interest rates, fees and late payment penalties.
  • Make sure you are able to repay the loan on time to avoid accumulating debt and negatively impacting your credit history.

Ordering a corporate credit card from a European bank involves several steps and requires additional documentation compared to a personal credit card. Here is the general process:

  1. Choosing a bank and credit card
  • Explore different banks' corporate credit card offers, paying attention to aspects such as interest rates, annual fees, credit limits, account management features and additional benefits such as travel insurance, bonuses and cashback.
  • Choose the card that best suits the needs of your business.
  1. Preparation of documentation
  • To apply for a corporate credit card, you are usually required to provide:
    • Company registration documents (e.g. extract from the commercial register).
    • Historical financial statements.
    • Documents confirming the authority of persons signing the contract on behalf of the company.
    • Passports and other personal documents of the persons to whom the cards will be issued.
    • Other documents may be required depending on the bank's policy and the country's laws.
  1. Submitting an application
  • Online: Some banks allow you to apply and upload the required documents online.
  • At a bank branch: It may be necessary to visit the bank branch in person to complete the application process and provide documents.
  1. Verification and approval
  • The bank will analyse the documentation provided and assess your company's creditworthiness.
  • This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
  1. Signing the contract and receiving the cards
  • Once your application is approved, you will be asked to sign a corporate credit card service agreement.
  • Cards will be produced and issued either by post or you can collect them from a bank branch.
  1. Card activation and limit setting
  • Cards must be activated in accordance with the bank's instructions.
  • You'll also be able to set personalised limits and manage your cards via online banking or mobile app.


  • Carefully study the terms and conditions of using corporate credit cards, including possible fees and restrictions.
  • Monitor card transactions regularly to control spending and prevent fraud.

In 2024 Europe, there are several banks and financial institutions that deal with cryptocurrencies, offering various services related to digital assets. These services may include cryptocurrency exchange, custody, portfolio management, and banking and payment services for cryptocurrency companies. Here are some examples:

  1. Revolut: A UK-based neobank that offers cryptocurrency exchange services for its users. Revolut allows you to exchange, buy and sell various cryptocurrencies directly through the app.
  2. Bank Frick: A Liechtenstein bank that offers cryptocurrency trading and custody services, as well as banking services for companies in the crypto industry. Bank Frick emphasises its focus on security and compliance.
  3. Fidor Bank: German online bank offering co-operation to cryptocurrency companies and services related to digital assets. Fidor Bank is known for its partnerships with cryptocurrency exchanges and offering innovative financial products.
  4. SEBA Bank: A Swiss bank specialising in cryptocurrency and blockchain financial services, including trading, custody and asset management.
  5. Bitwala (now Nuri): German fintech offering banking services with cryptocurrency integration. Users can open a bank account that also allows trading and storing cryptocurrencies.

These banks and fintech companies offer a variety of services to private and corporate clients interested in cryptocurrencies. It is important to note that the regulatory environment and attitudes towards cryptocurrencies can vary significantly from country to country, so services available at one bank may not be available at another. Before interacting with cryptocurrencies through a bank or financial institution, you should carefully consider all terms and conditions and possible risks.

In Europe, many banks and financial institutions offer services related to forex (Forex) trading for both retail and institutional clients. Here are some examples of banks that are known for their support of Forex trading:

  1. Saxo Bank: A Danish investment bank offering a wide range of trading instruments including currencies, stocks, bonds, commodities and others. Saxo Bank is one of the leading players in online trading and investment, providing access to global financial markets.
  2. Swissquote: Swiss bank specialising in online financial and trading services. Swissquote offers a wide range of trading products including currencies, metals, stocks, indices and more.
  3. Dukascopy Bank: Swiss online bank offering forex trading as well as binary options and other financial products. Dukascopy is known for its innovative technology and for offering some of the most competitive spreads and commissions on the market.
  4. IG Bank: Another Swiss bank offering trading in currencies and CFDs on a variety of financial instruments, including stocks, indices, commodities and more. IG provides its clients with access to a wide range of markets through advanced trading platforms.
  5. LMAX Exchange: Although LMAX is not a bank in the traditional sense, it is an important forex trading platform that offers institutional and retail traders transparent, fair and equitable access to the foreign exchange market.

These banks and financial institutions offer a variety of forex trading platforms and tools, including proprietary and third party trading platforms such as MetaTrader 4 and 5. Choosing a particular bank or broker for forex trading should depend on your individual needs, trading preferences and level of experience, as well as the trading conditions offered by each institution.

RUE customer support team


“Hi, if you are looking to start your project, or you still have some concerns, you can definitely reach out to me for comprehensive assistance. Contact me and let’s start your business venture.”


“Hello, I’m Sheyla, ready to help with your business ventures in Europe and beyond. Whether in international markets or exploring opportunities abroad, I offer guidance and support. Feel free to contact me!”


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At the moment, the main services of our company are legal and compliance solutions for FinTech projects. Our offices are located in Vilnius, Prague, and Warsaw. The legal team can assist with legal analysis, project structuring, and legal regulation.

Company in Lithuania UAB

Registration number: 304377400
Anno: 30.08.2016
Phone: +370 661 75988
Email: [email protected]
Address: Lvovo g. 25 – 702, 7th floor, Vilnius,
09320, Lithuania

Company in Poland Sp. z o.o

Registration number: 38421992700000
Anno: 28.08.2019
Phone: +48 50 633 5087
Email: [email protected]
Address: Twarda 18, 15th floor, Warsaw, 00-824, Poland

Regulated United Europe OÜ

Registration number: 14153440–
Anno: 16.11.2016
Phone: +372 56 966 260
Email:  [email protected]
Address: Laeva 2, Tallinn, 10111, Estonia

Company in Czech Republic s.r.o.

Registration number: 08620563
Anno: 21.10.2019
Phone: +420 775 524 175
Email:  [email protected]
Address: Na Perštýně 342/1, Staré Město, 110 00 Prague

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