The data contained in this publication has been compiled from publicly available information released by the European Central Bank, European Commission, Eurostat, the European Banking Authority, national competent authorities and members of the European Banking Federation. Unless otherwise noted, all graphs and tables have been produced to illustrate the figures mentioned in the relevant chapters.

Due to rounding, figures presented in the charts throughout this document may not sum.

Number of banks

The downward trend in the number of EU-28 credit institutions, which started in 2009, continued in 2017, falling to 6,250. This marked a decline of 5% compared to the previous year and a reduction of 2,275 in total since contraction started. Most of the consolidation has occurred within credit institutions legally incorporated into the reporting country, where the stock has fallen by 31% since 2008. This trend includes factors such as mergers in the banking sector with a view to enhancing profitability.

The countries that experienced the largest contraction in absolute terms in 2017 were Germany (-70 units), Italy (-65), Hungary (-49) and Austria (-43), according to the ECB. Sweden (+3 units) and the UK (+15) were the only countries where the number of credit institutions increased. The number of credit institutions in the EFTA countries fell from 413 to 410 in 2017.

Branches and subsidiaries

The rationalisation taking place in the EU banking sector also involved bank branches as the number of bank branches continued to shrink, falling to about 183,000 by the end of 2017. Compared to the previous year, branches in the EU-28 decreased by 3.1%, or about 5,900 branches. This partly reflects the increasing use of digital banking by consumers as more than half of EU individuals used internet banking in 2017 up from 29% in 2008.

The number of branches has fallen by 21% since 2007, or by almost 50,000. Since 2007, the branch network contracted by more than 5,000 units in three countries: Spain (down by 18,020 units) Germany (down 8,769) and Italy (down 5,800).

The overall number of subsidiaries continued declining for the tenth consecutive year, falling by 4.4% to 566, the lowest level since 1997. The number of subsidiaries of credit institutions from other EU countries fell by 14 in 2017, the lowest level since 1998. The number of non-EU credit institutions’ subsidiaries dropped to 245, down from 288 in 2013.

Bank staff

By end-2017, EU-28 banks employed about 2.7 million people, about 40,000 fewer than in 2016 and the lowest level since the ECB’s data series began in 1997. The five largest EU economies continue to be the five countries with the largest number of employees in the banking sector employing some 67% of the total EU-28 staff employed. Including EFTA countries, the number of staff employed in the banking sector was about 2.9 million.

Also reflecting a contraction in the banking sector, the average number of inhabitants per bank staff in the EU Member States rose from 184 in 2016 to 187 in 2017.
The average number has risen each year since 2008, when it was 154.

Economic contribution

Banking and related financial services activities make a significant contribution to the EU’s economy.

Despite the drop in bank employment in recent years, about one in every 100 jobs in the EU was a banking job in 2016.

In the past decade, between 3% and 4% of the value of compensation of employees and gross value added in the EU economy has come from financial services (excluding insurance and pension activities).

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