Wednesday

23rd Aug 2017

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 and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

Ombudsman asks for more details on Barroso case

Emily O'Reilly has asked the EU Commission to say what former commissioners should be allowed to do after they leave office and explain why it took no decision over its former president's controversial new job.

Opinion

Macron goes east to test appetite for EU integration

The next few months will be decisive in selecting who stays in the core of the EU and who stays behind, writes Tomas Prouza, a former state secretary for European Affairs of the Czech Republic.

News in Brief

  1. Air Berlin insolvency talks begin amid 'stitch-up' accusation
  2. EU calls on Serbia and Macedonia to remain calm
  3. Schulz wants US to remove nuclear weapons from Germany
  4. Ukraine and Russia to announce another ceasefire
  5. EU to investigate Monsanto-Bayer merger
  6. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  7. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  8. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference