Wednesday

25th Apr 2018

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).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Secrecy of VW fraud report 'unacceptable', says MEP

Finnish MEP Heidi Hautala won a trailblazing court case two decades ago for the right of EU citizens to receive 'partial access' to documents. Now she says it is "outrageous" the European Investment Bank is refusing to release Volkswagen documents.

Investigation

MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes

MEPs are using so-called 'friendship groups' to cater to foreign governments without oversight and little public scrutiny. Initially set up to promote cultural exchanges, some have become lobbying platforms to push state views from governments with poor human rights records.

News in Brief

  1. Far-right attack migrants on Greek island
  2. Merkel defends accepting UN refugees
  3. EU commissioner plans Malta 'money laundering' inspection
  4. Survey: Half of high polluting farms receive CAP subsidies
  5. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  6. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  7. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  8. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  4. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  6. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  7. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight

Latest News

  1. EU in race to set global AI ethics standards
  2. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  3. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ
  4. How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?
  5. MEPs tell Chinese ambassador of concerns on trade
  6. Greenland votes with eye on independence
  7. EU court delivers blow to anti-abortion activists
  8. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  3. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  6. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  7. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  8. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  9. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  10. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  11. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations