Today, the plenary of the European Parliament debated and voted on a resolution on “institutions and bodies of the Economic and Monetary Union: preventing post-public employment conflicts of interest”. The resolution had already been adopted unanimously by the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. The resolution is the European Parliament’s reaction to the appointment of Adam Farkas, previously executive director of the European Banking Authority (EBA), as chief lobbyist of AFME, the European association of major banks and capital market players, as of 1 February 2020. The move had caused outrage because the EBA’s Board of Supervisors had approved the change with only weak conditions to avoid conflicts of interest. Among other things, the European Parliament’s resolution stipulates that MEPs should avoid meeting Farkas and that the European Parliament should not provide him with the badge necessary to enter the parliament’s premises. It also calls on the EBA’s Board of Supervisors to reconsider the decision on Farkas’ move. The EU Commission is asked to revise and harmonise the rules for switching between politics and industry.
Gerry Cross, the candidate recently proposed by the EBA’s Board of Supervisors to succeed Farkas, also has extensive lobbying activities on his CV, including at AFME. His appointment will be discussed and decided by the members of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee next week. After that step, the candidate must be approved by the plenary of the European Parliament.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group, explains:
“The revolving door between EU authorities and lobby associations must be stopped. The EBA should veto the move from Farkas to the banking lobby at the last minute. The European Parliament’s call must not simply be ignored by the banking supervisory authority. Should Farkas take up his new post at AFME, Parliament will not grant him a lobby badge. We MEPs should not have meetings with the lobbyist Farkas. Parliament should consider temporarily freezing parts of the EBA budget. The EU Commission must now revise and harmonize the rules for switching between public authorities and the private sector. Such serious conflicts of interest must finally be overcome. To avoid conflicts of interest, Parliament should also put its own house in order. We need rules on the move of Members and parliamentary staff that prevent conflicts of interest.
Changes of job such as Farkas’ between public institutions and lobby organisations without a cooling off period are damaging confidence in democracy. The conditions imposed by the banking supervisory authority on Farkas’ change are totally inadequate and do not even begin to resolve the conflict of interest.
Gerry Cross, candidate to succeed Farkas at the EBA, also has a history with the banking lobby. We will examine Cross’s past closely before deciding whether he is suitable for the post of Executive Director. Another unresolved conflict of interest would further undermine public confidence.”
Link to the draft resolution: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/B-9-2020-0047_EN.html
Link to the final resolution: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2020-0017_EN.html