Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

  • Dansk
  • NL
  • EN
  • FI
  • FR
  • DE
  • EL
  • IT
  • NO
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • SL
  • ES
  • SV

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).

Attached files: 
 

This summer Greece's financial authorities fined 20 hedge funds for speculating against the Greek economy. Now, the main global lobby group for hedge funds is trying to tweak the EU's rules so they can have a free play in the future.

Murky channels for corporate influence in the European Parliament.
Civil society groups denounce the Commission's plan for a Capital Markets Union. No lesson has been learnt from the financial crisis, they say.
The investment bank Goldman Sachs has revised its registration in the EU's lobby transparency register and has substantially increased its declared lobby spend from the 2013 figure of less than €50,000 to €700,000-€799,999 for 2014. This compounds Corporate Europe Observatory's view that Goldman Sachs' original registration was not a full reflection of its EU lobbying activity. Yet despite this under-reporting, for five months the register secretariat took little action and Goldman Sachs was able to secure at least four meetings with top Commission officials.

An Open Letter to Heads of State and Government of the European Union

A revised Emissions Trading Directive is like red meat for the hungry pack of lobbyists that work the corridors of Brussels’ political institutions. Even minor differences in how pollution permits are handed out can result in profits or savings of millions of euros to big polluters.

Read our submission to the EU lobby transparency register consultation and find out why the present, voluntary system just isn't enough.

The response to two complaints about broken rules and dodgy data in the lobby register confirms the current system is toothless, argues CEO.

The corporate lobby tour

Stop the Crop

Alternative Trade Mandate