Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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EU Financial Lobby Power Must Be Curbed

Brussels, 14 April 2010 – The European Commission's new initiatives to regulate financial markets are based on unbalanced advisory groups dominated by financial services lobbyists, new research published by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) today shows. This has delayed and undermined the quality of the Commission’s regulatory responses to the financial crisis.

In March, the Commissioner for the Single Market said he would look at curbing, maybe even banning, financial instruments used for speculative attacks like the one on the Greek economy. The proposal is expected in October. The announcement came long after similar proposals had been tabled in the US and elsewhere.

Corporate Europe Observatory's analysis argues that the EU has left it far too late to take action on speculative trading through credit derivative swaps (CDS) – leaving the Greek economy exposed to speculators [1]. The need for effective policy measures could have been identified far faster if the Commission had not relied so heavily on one-sided advice from the financial lobby.

The report highlights the role of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) in influencing the Commission's work on derivatives trading – a group that represents the major EU and US banks – many of which profit from speculative trade – and a group famous for its defence for unfettered speculation.

The Commission has established a large number of expert groups to provide advice on regulation in the financial sector, including a derivatives expert group dominated by members of ISDA. Research published by the ALTER-EU coalition in November 2009 showed that most of these groups are dominated by representatives from the financial sector [2]. The report published today shows that this pattern of policy capture continues. According to Kenneth Haar, researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory, the Commission needs to dramatically overhaul the way in which it seeks advice from experts in many areas of its works.

Kenneth Haar said:
"Far too much of the Commission’s advice comes from industry groups which have a vested interest in the issue they are advising on. EU citizens have already paid a high price for that. It’s truly amazing that the Commission continues on the same track. Michel Barnier should clean up immediately – and disband all of the industry-dominated expert groups."

Contact:     Kenneth Haar         +45 23 60 06 31
                 Yiorgos Vassalos    + 32 2 893 0930
[1] Financial Warmongers Set EU Agenda, Corporate Europe Observatory, April 2010 –  
[2] A Captive Commission. The Role of the Financial Industry in Shaping EU Regulation, ALTER-EU, November 2009;
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