The Fire Power of the Financial Lobby: A Survey of the Size of the Financial Lobby at the EU level
Published by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), The Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer) and The Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) – April 2014.
Despite this manifest presence of “the financial lobby”, until now there has been no comprehensive survey of its size and power in the EU. This report is intended to fill that void. The enormous influence and destructive power of financial markets became apparent with the global economic collapse of 2008 which fuelled a financial crisis from which Europe has yet to recover. These events revealed the dire need for stronger rules on financial markets. But reform has proved difficult, not least due to successful campaigns waged by the financial lobby in the European Union: its “fire power” in resisting reforms it dislikes has been all too evident with issues such as banking regulation, derivatives, credit rating agencies, accounting rules, and many more.
The findings are stunning. In total the financial industry spends more than €120 million per year on lobbying in Brussels and employs more than 1700 lobbyists. The financial industry lobbied the post-crisis EU regulation via over 700 organisations and outnumbered civil-society organisations and trade unions by a factor of more than seven, with an even stronger dominance when numbers of staff and lobbying expenses are taken into account. In sum the financial lobby is massively outspending other (public) interests in terms of EU lobbying, by a factor of more than 30.
In the course of our survey we always took the most conservative numbers, in order to result in a safe estimate. The actual numbers are likely to be far higher. This underestimate is also due to the lack of a mandatory register at the EU level that provides reliable information for a proper monitoring of industry lobbying.
Finally, a look at the presence of the financial lobby in the EU’s official advisory groups that help shape policy shows a massive dominance, in that 15 of 17 expert groups that we included in the research were dominated by the industry. In sum, the financial industry lobby commands tremendous resources and enjoys privileged access to decision makers. Considering the failure to address some of the root problems at the heart of the financial crisis, and the negative impact of the crisis on European citizens, this situation represents a severe democratic problem that politicians must act on swiftly – not least, to avoid a repetition. (…)