Brussels, November 5, 2009 - The vast
majority of financial ‘experts’ advising the European Commission
represent the banks and investors responsible for the global economic
crisis, according to a new report published today by the Alliance for Lobbying
Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER EU) .
Commission must break free from these advisors on financial issues if it is
serious about reforming the failed financial system, say the authors.
'A captive Commission - the role of the
financial industry in shaping EU regulation' examines how before, during and in
the wake of the worst financial crisis for a generation, the Commission chose
to listen almost exclusively to the finance industry.
Expert Groups – bodies set up to advise
the Commission – which gave, or still give, advice on financial issues are
overwhelmingly dominated by representatives from the financial industry, with
scarcely any representatives from academia, consumer groups or unions.
Case studies on key issues such as
banking regulation, hedge funds, credit rating agencies, accountancy rules and
tax havens show how the financial sector has been actively involved in
designing the policies which contributed to recent financial instability. The
European Union is now consulting the same experts on its plans to tackle the
Paul de Clerck member of ALTER-EU’s steering committee, said: “The
Commission only seems to be interested in listening to the advice of the
finance industry, rather than acting in the interests of society. Light touch
regulation may have made it easier to do business, but it has not protected our
savings and our pensions from being gambled away. Now the Commission tells us
they are tightening the rules but in reality their proposals still leave many
loopholes. If the Commission wants to restore confidence in our financial
systems, it must break free of this stranglehold of partial advice.”
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, President of the Party of
European Socialists and leading campaigner of the Europeans for Financial
Reform coalition, said: "I want a strong, transparent
and competitive financial industry. The crisis showed that the financial
industry was short-termist, overleveraged and disengaged with the needs of the
"The danger we now have is the financial industry
investing massive resources into capturing regulation for its private benefit
to the detriment of the end-beneficiaries: the individual citizens and businesses
in Europe and across the world who've suffered the consequences of this
Expert Groups dominated by large private
banks, insurance giants and a range of financial enterprises wield significant
power within the EU legislative process – from the drafting of EU strategies
and laws to their implementation.
Today, there are19 expert groups advising
the Commission on financial issues. Of these 19 groups, seven consist mainly of
representatives from member states. Of the remaining twelve groups, eight are
dominated by industry, one has equal non-government and industry membership;
and three cannot be assessed as their full membership is not disclosed.
 Within the 19 groups, industry experts outnumber representatives from
academia, consumer groups and trade unions by a ratio of four to one .
Industry experts even outnumber civil servants responsible for financial
This imbalance in the membership of
Expert Groups is putting the Commission in breach of its own regulations. Commission
guidelines on the use of expertise state that a diversity of views must be
sought. The European Parliament should not approve the budgets for these Expert
Groups as long as they remain so unbalanced. 
ALTER-EU is calling on the Commission
- Disclose membership (names and
organisations) and documents (reports and minutes) of all groups that have been
or still are advising the Commission on financial regulation since it set about
creating a single market for financial services.
- Dissolve groups that are controlled by
industry interests or take steps to ensure balanced representation.
- Not set up any new Expert Groups
advising on financial issues unless transparent and fair mechanisms that
guarantee equitable consultation of all stakeholders are implemented.
ALTER-EU also urges the Commission to
reform the way in which it gathers expert advice by ensuring a more transparent
process and a genuine commitment to seeking a diversity of views.
For more information, please contact:
Paul de Clerck (EN, NL), Friends of the Earth Europe, +32-(0)494380959, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yiorgos Vassalos (EN, FR, EL), Corporate Europe Observatory, +32-(0)28930930, email@example.com
Andy Rowel (EN), Spinwatch, +44-(0)136472999, firstname.lastname@example.org
 'A captive Commission - the role of
the financial industry in shaping EU regulation' can be found here.
 See full report chapter 3.4
 There are 229 industry
representatives, compared to 58 representatives from all academia, unions and
consumer groups combined.
 229 corporate advisors compared to
around 150 Commission civil servants charged with policy making in the
 Commission’s guidelines on the use of
expert advice, COM (2002) 713 final,
The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) is a
coalition of over 160 civil society groups, trade unions, academics and public
affairs firms concerned with the increasing influence exerted by corporate
lobbyists on the political agenda in Europe, the resulting loss of democracy in
EU decision-making and the postponement, weakening, or blockage even, of
urgently needed progress on social, environmental and consumer-protection
reforms. See www.alter-eu.org