Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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Addicted to risk

The banking lobby in the European Union is waging a successful battle against regulation that will undercut international Basel rules. They’re succeeding in putting competition and the right to risky bets before concerns for financial stability.

This year the European Union is expected to adopt new rules on banking. In 2008 when the financial crisis broke, legislators promised bold reforms and public expectation was high. In view of the dire consequences of the collapse of big banks across Europe, now was the time to make up for the omissions of the past and fix the rules to avoid speculative excesses.

Today, more than three years later, those new rules are in the pipeline, but few expect them to be much of an advance. At the international level, the banking lobby watered down proposals for international rules, – called Basel III – and these showed so little improvement that it was hard to imagine the European Union could go lower.

Even so, thanks in part to lobbying by the banks, the proposal tabled by the Commission and discussed by the European Parliament and in the Council at the time of writing, is indeed weaker, driving standards lower than the global level.

With a draft heavily influenced by the banks, any fight for improvements will be an up-hill battle. And in this case it’s hard to imagine the outcome will even live up to weak international standards. It is high time to ask whether banks should be responsible for setting the standards for banks, and whether indeed they should be allowed to set the terms for the debate on banking regulation.

Read more in Corporate Europe Observatory's report "Addicted to risk" (download pdf below).

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Never before has a former European Commission official been criticised as much for his post-EU career as ex-Commission president Barroso upon joining infamous US investment bank Goldman Sachs this summer. Citizens are outraged and evidence already points towards a gross violation of the EU Treaty.

Following the high-level appointment of former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Goldman Sachs, NGOs have launched a petition demanding stricter rules for ex-EU commissioners’ revolving door moves.

José Manuel Barroso's move to Goldman Sachs has catapulted the EU’s revolving door problem onto the political agenda. It is symbolic of the excessive corporate influence at the highest levels of the EU.

In the run up to the UK referendum on EU membership on 23 June, Corporate Europe Observatory has tabled a series of freedom of information requests to find out how UK finance lobbies have been influencing the referendum negotiations and the Capital Markets Union. But the Brexit-Bremain referendum seems to be a freedom of information black hole.

A few weeks after the May coup against Dilma Rousseff by conservative parties backed by the country's largest corporations, Brazil's “interim” government, led by Michel Temer, signed an emergency loan to the State of Rio de Janeiro to help finance infrastructure for the 2016 Olympics. The bailout was conditional to selling off the State's public water supply and sanitation company, the Companhia Estadual de Águas e Esgotos (Cedae). 

When we interviewed City Councillor and chair of Rio’s Special Committee on the Water Crisis Renato Cinco, in December 2015, he was already warning against such privatisation threats and provided important background information on the water situation in Rio.

Never before has a former European Commission official been criticised as much for his post-EU career as ex-Commission president Barroso upon joining infamous US investment bank Goldman Sachs this summer. Citizens are outraged and evidence already points towards a gross violation of the EU Treaty.

Following the high-level appointment of former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Goldman Sachs, NGOs have launched a petition demanding stricter rules for ex-EU commissioners’ revolving door moves.

Corporate Europe Observatory's new report 'A spoonful of sugar' illustrates how the sugar lobby undermines existing laws and fights off much-needed measures that are vital for tackling Europe’s looming obesity crisis.

 
 
 
 
 
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The corporate lobby tour