It’s easy! Just sign our pledge below to say you stand with voters demanding a financial system that serves people and planet!
10 years after the 2008 crash that it caused, the financial sector remains essentially unchanged. Rules to reduce dangers to the financial system have been discarded, delayed or diluted. This has been achieved through the deployment of an army of 1,700 lobbyists representing banks, investment funds and insurance companies. Their purpose is to represent the sectors’ interests rather than to make finance serve public interest. During this period, speculation has again grown rampant, increasing the prospects of further economic collapse. Instead of acting for the good of society, serving the urgent need for ecological and social transition in the face of climate change, and redressing gross inequality, the sector remains driven by destabilising casino activities. Most importantly, the financial lobbies have blocked the changes required to prevent us sleepwalking into another financial crisis. To avoid this threat to the wellbeing of Europe’s citizens, we urge you to sign this pledge.
If elected to the European Parliament (EP), I pledge to support and take measures to ensure the EP works to create a more stable financial system to better serve Europe’s citizens by becoming more just, sustainable and democratic. To that end, I will:
1) Work to counter the overwhelming influence of the financial sector by restricting the interactions of financial lobbyists with parliamentarians and decision-makers.
Financial sector representatives are lobbyists, not advisers, with whom contacts should be restricted.
2) Ensure transparency when interactions occur.
Basic information on all meetings with lobbyists and external stakeholders needs to be made public.
3) Ensure strong presence of views other than those of the finance industry on financial reform.
Consultations, advisory groups and hearings are used as lobbying occasions if measures are not taken to ensure a balanced representation of other voices, such as civil society organisations and academics.
4) Reject formal bonds and membership of clubs or associations that link the financial industry to decision-makers.
Politicians and civil servants should not join or participate in such clubs or associations which are employed to gain access to them for lobbying purposes.
5) Work for stronger rules regarding conflicts of interest and revolving doors for officials and politicians in all European Union institutions.
Longer ‘cooling off’ periods and restrictions on activities are needed for civil servants or politicians who come from or go to the financial sector.
The Change Finance Coalition, which consists of member organisations across Europe, is working to expose and prevent the harmful activities of the financial lobby. We are calling for a citizen’s Finance Agenda that strives for social justice, sustainability and democracy, including:
These reforms will remain illusory unless we tackle the financial lobbies’ excessive influence on political decision-makers.
Over 1.700 lobbyists work for the financial sector in Brussels, and they have a clear focus: to increase their profits and prevent laws that challenge them. For example, in March this year, they lobbied hard against rules that would make financing fossil fuels more expensive.
Financial lobbyists persuade politicians to vote for weak laws that give them permission to speculate, including on companies, housing, food and public services. This results in workers earning less, consumers paying more and rich people getting higher returns, leading to growing inequality. Many attempts to secure sustainable models for society are undercut by the financial sector.
What’s more, the risks it takes could lead to another monumental financial crisis. Experts warn that such a crisis will be worse than the collapse of 2008, which cost billions of euros in taxpayers’ money to bail out banks. People lost their jobs and homes, and many countries were immersed in austerity policies.
If we roll back the power of the financial lobby and prevent it from dominating decision-making spaces, such as the European Parliament, we can build a healthy and democratic future for Europe and its citizens.
In Brussels, powerful financial companies are able to put their interests first on the agenda. The lobbyists that represent big banks and investment funds use all kinds of arguments to persuade decision-makers that there is no need for measures to change the financial system, whose primary function is their benefit. In 2018, only 31% of EU bank assets were lent to households and non-financial companies, while almost 70% were devoted to speculative activities.
Vast lobby budgets have allowed the financial sector to deeply penetrate each of the EU institutions and prevent strict financial reforms. It has been very difficult for the voice of civil society to be heard and the public interest given priority. Given this imbalance, the financial lobby needs to be kept at bay to protect the integrity of democratic decision-making.
Changing the financial system is about changing the way money is handled and who gets the best financial services. Most of this is decided in EU institutions, of which the European Parliament plays an important role.
To set society on the course towards equality and sustainability, we urge the next set of parliamentarians to create another playing field: one that will prevent those with big money from dominating big politics, and one that will secure other voices in the debate.
In the new parliamentary session, we need parliamentarians to take ambitious measures to roll back the power and overwhelming influence of the financial lobby, which prevents the interests of many European citizens being served.
The crash of 2008 led to a public outcry against an out-of-control financial system. Millions of European citizens lost their jobs, with many losing their homes. At the same time, big banks were bailed out with hundreds of millions of euros of taxpayer money. The resulting eurocrisis led directly to cuts in public services and welfare in EU countries. People demanded far-reaching reforms to prevent such a disaster ever happening again.
Since then, the financial lobby has fought tooth and nail to prevent fundamental change. It defends the interests of the big banks, investment funds and insurance companies, and it does not see a problem with a financial system tailored entirely to make quick profits. Using all available inroads to power, they have managed to prevent effective reform.
As a result of the lengthy campaign conducted by well-connected, well-funded lobbyists, what we see in the EU is a financial system fraught with the same injustices and dangers as in 2008. We are sleepwalking into the next crash.
The biggest banks are still so big they are bound to be bailed out with public money, should they fail. For that reason, a European fund (ESM) is now capable of lending 500 billion euros under the Banking Union to bailout banks. Even the kind of speculative financial products that were blamed for igniting the crisis in 2008 have been allowed to reappear under the Capital Markets Union.
There is still a long way to go before we have reached the goal of financial markets at the service of society – a financial system that can secure and strengthen welfare, sustainability and social justice. The key lesson from the past decade is that for us to succeed with those objectives, we need to roll back the power of the financial lobby.
Climate change will dramatically alter our economies, new activities will rise, old sectors will die. The financial sector is not ready for such drastic changes. Researchers put their potential losses in the tens of trillions. For our over-indebted, over-connected, fragile financial system the scale of such losses will prove catastrophic. Once again governments will be called on to bail them out.
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