What influence does the financial lobby have over banking regulation and other financial markets?
The ESM, the euro area’s permanent bailout fund set up in 2012, is an international organization that operates behind closed doors, far from public scrutiny. The institution at the heart of EU loans to debt-ridden member states is doing its best to stave off any national influence over the conditions attached to its loans. In addition it is working closely with private consultancies, which appear to have conflicts of interest. However, the ESM is immune to democracy; we have no right to know what it is up to.
A Tribunal on EU economic governance and the Troika took place in Brussels on 15-16 May. Eleven witnesses from ten countries in Southern, Eastern and Western Europe gave testimony to the failure of the EU and Troika policies to address the crisis. Indeed, people’s lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the austerity and other policy measures.
Despite a manifest presence of “the financial lobby” in the EU decision-making, until now there has been no comprehensive survey of its size and power in the EU. A new report by CEO, ÖGB Europabüro and AK EUROPA is intended to fill that void. The findings are stunning. In total the financial industry spends more than €120 million per year on lobbying in Brussels and employs more than 1700 lobbyists.
5 years after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, and the beginning of the worst economic crisis in decades, the EU has not delivered on promises of strong regulation of the financial sector. A swift overhaul is needed.
Big banks and financial companies are doing their best to stop the introduction of a financial transaction tax (FTT) in the European Union. A proposal for an FTT is on the table, but still has to be approved by the Council. The industry has put all its lobbying machinery to work, implementing a scaremongering strategy, to convince member states to reject the tax. There is a real risk that their lobbying will pay off, either by defeating the entire idea of taxing transactions, or by watering down an already timid proposal.
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