EU: A Lobby for the Public

October 30th, 2011
in econ_news

euro-flag Econintersect:  A new financial lobbying group has opened up shop in Brussels, joining the estimated 700 already there who trying to assure that any action taken by the EU will have no adverse effect upon the interests of banks, hedge funds, insurance companies and private equity firms.  But the new lobbyist, called Financial Watch, headed by Thierry Philipponnat, has a different interest.  Financial Watch is a lobbyist for interests that are not financial sector companies.  It is backed by 40 European organizations, including unions, consumer-protection groups, foundations and think tanks.  It might be called a public lobby.

Follow up:

The domination of industry lobbies in the affairs of the EU parliament has become an irritation, according to an article in Der Spiegel, which wrote:

This problem prompted members of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee to take an unusual step in June 2010, when they publicly called for the creation of "one (or more) non-governmental organization(s) capable of developing a counter-expertise on activities carried out on financial markets by the major operators … and to convey effectively this analysis to the media."

The gulf between the capabilities of the financial industry and politicians' relatively poor understanding of the field "poses a danger to democracy," a group of parliamentarians wrote. The petition initially had 22 signatures, but soon more than 140 politicians in Brussels -- from all member countries and the entire range of political parties -- added their signatures. Eleven members donated money to fund a six-month exploratory phase and began searching for the right person to head the organization: Philipponnat.

When he left the banking industry in 2006, Philipponnat had lost faith in the sense and purpose of his work. "Many financial transactions are useless at best," he says, "but, at worst, they have a massive impact on politics and society." He then made his way to Amnesty International and became the head of its French section.

Editor’s note: How about a public lobby in the U.S.?

Source:  Der Spiegel

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