Friday

24th Sep 2021

Financial sector spends €120mn on EU lobbying

  • Bowles with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of eurozone finance ministers, at the EU parliament (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The EU's financial industry spends more than €120 million per year and employs over 1,700 lobbyists to work in the EU institutions, according to new research by transparency campaigners.

The report on "The fire power of the financial lobby" published on Wednesday (9 April) by the Corporate Europe Observatory found that more than 700 different financial industry groups were active in the EU institutions in 2013.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Its findings will come as no surprise to Brussels-insiders. The lobbying industry has boomed in recent years as the EU's law-making powers have increased and financial sector legislation has been a key priority of its institutions in the current legislative term.

Since the 2008 financial crisis which prompted EU governments to pump in around €1.6 trillion to keep their banks afloat, the EU has passed a raft of legislation aimed at tightening regulation ranging from the banking and insurance sectors to derivatives and credit rating agencies.

Speaking on Monday at the last meeting of the European Parliament's economic affairs committee before May elections, chairwoman Sharon Bowles said MEPs had piloted 63 new laws, most of them dealing with financial market regulation, since 2009.

The UK, which has the EU's largest financial services sector, accounts for more than 140 lobby groups, the largest number across the bloc, followed by Germany and France.

As a result, the Bowles' influential committee has been the focal point for lobbying on new EU laws.

But many observers feel that the relationship between lawmakers and lobbyists is too cosy.

A number of MEPs on the committee have direct links to the financial sector, such as German centre-right deputy Burkhard Balz, who receives more than €10,000 per month as a director of Commerzbank.

Meanwhile, a growing number of EU officials and MEP staffers have gone through the 'revolving door' by taking jobs as lobbyists.

There is also evidence of deputies proposing 'copy and paste' amendments at the behest of industry lobbyists.

A report looking at amendments tabled by MEPs to legislation on hedge funds and private equity firms found that more than 900 of the 1700 amendments were prepared by lobby groups.

“The financial lobby is a major obstacle to effective regulation,” the report argues, adding that “the relative failure of the reform process showed the tremendous strength in the EU institutions of the financial lobby”.

“The crisis revealed a clear need for stronger rules on financial markets,” commented Kenneth Haar, spokesman for the Corporate Europe Observatory.

“But reform has proved difficult, and these numbers are an important part of the explanation. The financial lobby's fire power to resist reform has been evident in all significant battles over financial regulation since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.”

Transparency groups also want the EU institutions to tighten up their rules to force mandatory registration of lobbying firms. The EU's transparency register was introduced in 2008 and 2,800 Brussels lobby groups have signed up, but it remains voluntary and does not require lobbyists to reveal which laws they are attempting to influence.

For its part, the European Commission estimates that between 60 to 75 percent of Brussels’ lobby sector can be found in the online database.

A window to EU lobbying and lobbyists

The EU transparency register for the European Parliament and the European Commission was launched in the summer of 2011 to better expose outside influence on EU law and decision-making.

Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border

The European Commission has demanded Warsaw "ensure that people at the border are given the necessary care and assistance". But activists say without any help, more stranded people along the Polish-Belarus border will likely die as temperatures plummet.

VW emissions software was illegal, top EU lawyer says

Volkswagen used software to alter emissions illegally, according to the European advocate-general on Thursday. The German carmaker installed devices that could detect when the car would be subjected to testing - which would then distort parameters to show lower emissions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border
  2. EU unveils common charger plan - forcing Apple redesign
  3. Central Europe leaders rail against 'new liberal woke virus'
  4. Yemen's refugees in 'appalling conditions', says UN agency
  5. VW emissions software was illegal, top EU lawyer says
  6. Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president
  7. More French names linked to Russia election-monitoring
  8. Negotiations set for new, tougher, EU ethics body

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us