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Europe's banks aren't in crisis but their profits are: Austria finance minister

The profitability of Europe's banks is in crisis rather than the system itself, the finance minister of Austria told CNBC Thursday, amid speculation over the health of Germany's top banks.

"I don't think we have a bank crisis (in Europe), what we have is a profitability crisis," Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling told CNBC on Thursday.

"They earn less money and to be resistant against shocks you have to make more profit, and that's a common opinion from the International Monetary Fund, from the World Bank, from the OECD, from everybody," he said.

Hans Joerg Schelling, Austria's finance minister.
Akos Stiller/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Hans Joerg Schelling, Austria's finance minister.

Schelling's comments come as the fate of some of Germany's top lenders is in focus for investors amid speculation that Deutsche Bank could require state aid, although the bank insists there is "no reason to worry." Any potential state intervention could have far-reaching repercussions, however, and represents a systemic risk as it has links to many other global banking institutions.

Meanwhile, Commerzbank announced on Thursday that it was cutting a net 7,300 jobs and was to stop paying dividends for the time being amid a drive to sustainably increase its profitability by 2020, the bank said in a statement.

Austria's finance minister said that the current discussion about Europe's banks was similar to concerns about the single currency area but , similarly, it too was not in trouble.

"It's the same as the discussion over the euro zone - we don't have a euro crisis, we have a debt crisis. The euro is relatively stable," he said.

"Of course, we have some problems, such as Greece and Italy with its non-performing loans and of course, Austria has had some problem with the banks and we've just wound down one of them. But we just have to make clear that the financial markets are acting, and that financial markets are able to get access to the market," he said.

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