What influence does the financial lobby have over banking regulation and other financial markets?
Is it appropriate to let a former board member of a Deutsche Bank investment fund go straight from there to a key position in the new European supervisory structure for banks? What's the problem with hiring people with strong links to financial corporations to monitor the big banks? Or to be part of decisions on whether measures to ensure financial stability should be imposed on them or not? And can they keep working in the financial sector at the same time?
If you ask the European Central Bank, there is absolutely no problem with this scenario.
Newly-released documents show that as far as financial regulation is concerned, lobbyists are besieging the Commission – which has an open door policy towards them. Can the new Commission fare better? And why is its prospective commissioner responsible for this area, Jonathan Hill, a former financial lobbyist?
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.
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