Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

Corporate interest dominates EU 'expert groups,' transparency NGO says

  • Corporate interests dominate special expert groups set up to advise the European Commission (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

People with close connections to top banks implicated in the financial crisis are said to have helped steer the European Commission’s response to the economic meltdown.

“One of the key responses to the crisis, key drivers in shaping the commission’s response to the crisis is the De Larosiere expert group,” Pascoe Sabido of the Brussels-based pro-transparency network, Alter-EU, told reporters on Wednesday (6 November).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The De Larosiere group, now disbanded, was named after its chairman, a senior banking figure, Frenchman Jacques de Larosiere.

The commission forms expert groups, on subjects ranging from climate change to data privacy, when their respective departments lack the internal expertise.

“This group, unfortunately, was dominated by the very same banking institutions that were instrumental in the financial crisis,” Sabido noted.

Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Lehman Brothers and BNP Paribas, were all linked to the group, formally known as the High-Level Group on Financial Supervision in the EU.

“Unsurprisingly enough, the conclusion of this group, the recommendations were that actually whilst there had been a crisis 'we are not going to challenge the underlying cause of it, which is self-regulation of banks and banks that are too big to fail',” Sabido added.

De Larosiere, who chairs a committee at the French Treasury and is an advisor at BNP Paribas, also has the 2009 blueprint on EU financial supervision named after him.

The 86-page report laid out a framework to create new EU agencies on banking, securities, markets, insurance and pensions and a new systemic risk board (ESRB) run by the European Central Bank to act as an overall watchdog.

Sabido’s findings figure among a larger assessment of the corporate-intensive nature of the commission’s expert groups detailed in an Alter-EU report, out Wednesday.

The report, which looks at all the new expert groups created in the past year, says the commission has failed to deliver on its commitments to reform them despite repeated warnings from members of the European Parliament.

MEPs in November 2011 and in March 2012 docked the groups' budgets in order to force the commission to remedy their corporat-dominated nature.

Parliament lifted the budget reserve in September 2012 with the understanding that the commission would balance out the groups with more civil society representatives and improve transparency.

But the Alter-EU report notes that in all the recent groups created by the commission, there are more representatives of big business than of all the other stakeholders combined.

It points out that 80 percent of the expert groups linked to the commission’s tax department, DG taxation and customs union, represent corporate interest.

Groups tied to the commission secretary-general are 64 percent corporate-dominated, while DG enterprise has around 62 percent, it notes.

The European Commission, for its part, disputes the findings.

It say some of the corporate-dominated percentages of the groups cited by Alter-EU are inaccurate, but acknowledges there is industry over-representation.

“Unfortunately, due to insufficient applications from NGOs, the established composition is not yet perfectly balanced,” said European Commission spokesperson Anthony Gravili in an email.

Gravili said the commission could only accept candidates for such groups who have real, needed expertise in the area covered by the mandate of the group.

“We will not turn the groups into debating societies of a wider political nature. That debate must and should take place elsewhere,” he said.

He pointed out that the general policy in place for the whole commission is to issue, in most cases, public calls for interest in membership of a given group.

He said the mandate, the membership and the work of each of the groups is now published online - “so the whole process is fully transparent, also as promised.”

ECB set to become more transparent

The European Central Bank kept its main interest rate at a historic low Thursday and indicated that in future the reasoning behind such decisions will be made public.

EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency

A resolution demanding Saudi Arabia release prisoners and stop gender-based violence was passed by over 500 MEPs on Thursday in Strasbourg. They also demanded greater transparency over Brussels-based lobbying for the Saudis, following an EUobserver exclusive.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

News in Brief

  1. Estonia kicks out Danske Bank over money laundering scandal
  2. May and Juncker meet over Brexit on Wednesday
  3. EU promises to open up advisory groups
  4. EU agrees to limit CO2 emissions by trucks
  5. Juncker under attack in Hungary government ad
  6. EU would not oppose extending Brexit talks, Juncker said
  7. Juncker expects Trump not to impose new car tariffs
  8. Former EU official sentenced for office rape

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  2. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  3. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  4. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat
  5. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  6. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars
  7. British MPs condemn Facebook CEO's misrule
  8. EU's chance to step up on Hungary and Poland

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us