Sven Giegold

Bull in a china shop: Lord Hill is not suitable as commissioner for financial stability

After 3 hours of a critical hearing Lord Hill left a puzzeled European Parliament behind. Many unanswered questions remained, he did not present own ideas and hid behind vague replies. He could not properly flesh our Mr. Juncker’s idea of a capital markets union which will be one of his main priorities.

Lord Hill refused to answer my question for which financial companies he lobbied exactly via his own PR-firm Quiller Consultants between 1998 and 2010. Beside this limited transparency he lacks commitment for European integration: On my question what he personally did since 1995 for better EU-UK relations he also failed to provide any real life example. Therefore, it is difficult to imagine any change of mind in favour of the European common good. Without commitment toEurope, intransparency and without distance from the financial industry – Lord Hill does not qualify for the position of EU Commissioner for financial stability. What is clear to me: In addition to the 1700 Lobbyists already working today in Brussels for the banks of the City of London and Europe they would have yet another supporter in the role of a EU Commissioner. Without strong personal convictions he would be at the mercy of the finance lobby. The appointment of Lord Hill as EU Commissioner for financial stability and financial services would put a sympathetic bull in a fragile china shop.

Beyond the criticism: I liked Lord Hill´s clear reaction to the ECON committees’ anti-Europeans. Likewise, his support for Finance Watch as a counterweight to the financial industry is a positive sign. Moreover, his commitment for cheap and safe financial products for retail customers is a useful basis to build on. In the same way, Lord Hill pointed out that he wanted to ensure proportionality in the implementation of current financial market legislation, specially to limit the burden for small banks. Nevertheless, from a detailed perspective a  devastating overall picture remains, since Lord Hill declared that he wants to open European standards to potential political downward pressure through their global mutual recognition. Furthermore, he definitely showed a lack of commitment with regards to the regulation of shadow banks and money market funds. Bizarrely, he did not regard today’s money market funds as a threat to fair competition between banks and other financial market agents, but rather as opportunity to promote the flow of capital.

In the course of the debate of the “too big to fail” topic Lord Hill recycled vague old ideas, which have been repeated over and over again. Thus, it looks like he did not devote much time to this key remaining problem during his preparation for the hearing. With regards to Eurobonds he simply admitted that he has not a particularly informed position on the subject. Grotesque for a financial market commissioner.

The Greens will request a vote on the suitability of Lord Hill in the committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).

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