| April 2011|
| European Union|
| Non-governmental organization|
Promoting sound financial regulation
English, French, German
"Making finance serve society"
Finance Watch is a European non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on financial regulation. Based in Brussels, the organization focuses on financial regulation in the European Union and its member states.
Set up in 2011 as a counterbalance to the financial lobby on the initiative of members of the European Parliament, Finance Watch states its mission is "to strengthen the voice of society in the reform of financial regulation by conducting advocacy and presenting public interest arguments to lawmakers and the public as a counterweight to the private interest lobbying of the financial industry".
Finance Watch Wikipedia
Finance Watch was founded on 30 June 2011 as a consequence of a petition initiated in June 2010 by 22 members of the European Parliament, including members of all major political groups (ALDE, EPP, Greens-EFA, GUE/NGL, and S&D). This call for action was signed by another 140 elected officials from across Europe, and led to an exploratory project funded by the initiators, which in turn resulted in the founding General Assembly on 30 June 2011. Ieke van den Burg, a former MEP, was appointed Chair of the Board of Directors and Thierry Philipponnat, a former banker and Amnesty International executive in France, became the Secretary General.
The organization's research team analyses financial regulation and formulates policy recommendations. Its views are then communicated to policymakers by its advocacy team, who also cooperate with member organizations who share the same views, and to the wider public by its communication team. Examples of dossiers that Finance Watch deals with are capital requirements for banks (the Basel III agreement), banking structure (the Liikanen Consultation), high-frequency trading, food and resource speculation, and protection of retail investors. Finance Watch also organizes conferences about financial regulation issues, where different stakeholders of the financial sector interact in public.
Finance Watch is an international association under Belgian law (AISBL), and has two types of members: individuals and civil society organizations. The latter include consumer groups, trade unions, housing associations, environmental NGOs, development NGOs and others. Each member has an equal vote at the organization’s general assembly. To become a member, both individuals and civil society organizations need to prove to the organization’s Committee of Transparency and Independence that they are independent from the financial industry. Individual members also need to qualify for membership by showing they have relevant experience and expertise. The members convene at least once a year for a General Assembly. During the year, the General Assembly is represented by the Board of Directors. The Board comprises eight Directors including six elected by and from the General Assembly (four Member organisations and two individual Members) and two independent Directors (“external personalities”).
Members of the Finance Watch board of directors as of September 2015:Kurt Eliasson – Housing Europe (chair)
Anne Fily - BEUC - The European Consumers' Organization
Hanna Sjölund - UNI Europa
Jacques Terray - Transparency International EU Office
Prof. Dr. Rainer Lenz (Professor for International Finance, Fachhochschule Bielefeld)
Board Directors from outside the Membership (“external personalities”):Marc Roche (author, financial journalist)
Professor Eric De Keuleneer (professor of economic regulation and banking at the Solvay School of the Université Libre de Bruxelles)
The organization’s budget has as its main sources pilot funding from the European Union and grants from several charitable foundations: Adessium Foundation, Fondation pour le progrès de l’homme, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Better Markets, Open Society Initiative for Europe, as well as individual donations and members’ fees and contributions.
The declared mission of Finance Watch is “to strengthen the voice of society in the reform of financial regulation by conducting advocacy and presenting public interest arguments to lawmakers and the public as a counterweight to the private interest lobbying of the financial industry”.
The organization states it follows six principles in the pursuit of this mission:
- The role of the financial industry (allocating capital, managing risk and providing financial services) has strong public interest implications.
- The primary role of finance is to allocate capital to productive use.
- Finance must serve the real economy, not the inverse.
- Banks are legitimate in pursuing profits to ensure their sustainability, but profits should not harm public interest.
- Credit risk should not be transferred to society at large.
- The real economy needs to have access to capital and financial services, in a sustainable, equitable and transparent manner.