Brussels financial lobby meets resistance

30 June 2011

Brussels financial lobby meets resistance

The lobby of banks and insurance companies has an unreasonable amount of influence in Brussels. Today, however, saw the establishment of Finance Watch, an organisation which intends to even things up. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, who has been involved during the last year in setting the group up, explains: ‘In very few other sectors is the power of the corporate lobby so strong as it is in the financial area, and at last we have an organisation which can counter the one-sided information which we get from the bankers.’

Dennis de JongSince being elected in 2009, De Jong has seen for himself the massive influence exerted by the financial lobby. European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier has, for example, recently come under pressure from the banks regarding a legislative proposal which would give everyone the right to a bank account with a pin code. In addition, the financial lobby is determined to undermine effective surveillance. “Time after time,” complains De Jong, “banks and insurers are able to direct policy in Brussels. This has led in the past to, amongst other things, reduced surveillance of the financial sector, which lay at the root of the credit crisis. From today onwards this will be balanced, and we’ll see a fairer fight.”

Finance Watch has as its goal the provision of independent information in the financial-technical area to MEPs and policy makers in the European Union. But the organisation will not only direct its attention towards the EU institutions, it also wants to see journalists and interested parties provided with information on financial proposals and laws, which are often difficult to understand. Some forty bodies are involved, including the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Oxfam-Novib, Transparency International and the Dutch Foundation for Research into Multinational Corporations (SOMO), as well as a number of independent academics. Dennis de Jong will remain closely involved in the work of Finance Watch, including through his participation in the contact group for relations with the European Parliament.

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