The best things happen in Brussels, when you expect them the least to. It seems a rule of the thumb that what would make the headlines in Berlin, Paris or Rome, remains unnoticed in Brussels, even if billions are moved. Such a thing happened at our yesterday’s event with the cumbersome title: “What will the CMU mid-term review deliver for citizens and the environment? How can we deliver sustainability through the Capital Markets Union”.
Together with representatives of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and the Left, I opened the door to an event in the European Parliament for several NGOs including Global Witness, Friends of the Earth Europe, ActionAid International, Center for Research on Multinational Corporations-SOMO, ShareAction, E3G and WWF. At the event, Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union gave an interesting speech on future policy plans of the EU-Commission to promote green financial investments.
Suddenly, it felt like years of our dedicated work finally bore fruits. During his Commissioner Hearing, when he was confirmed by the European Parliament he responded to my questions, thereby publicly committed himself to systematically promoting green financial investments. In the meantime, the EU Commission has set up an expert group consisting of representatives of financial companies, environmental NGOs and academics that work together on a regulatory framework for the greening of financial markets. In all probability, left the work of this group an impression on Commissioner Dombrovski, as he has now announced concrete steps that we have long demanded. His words, roughly summarized by me, were:
“Green financial products need legal certainty. This includes clear definitions, transparency about risks and common standards and labels, which ensure that investments have strict and measurable environmental impacts. These rules ought to be applied along the entire investment chain, including the fiduciary responsibilities for asset managers and on the methodology for ratings. Ultimately, sustainability criteria must be systematically integrated into all financial market legislation.”
Hearing these words from the Commissioner, I was almost left speechless. Not even two years ago, to hear these words would have been impossible. Of course, all this still needs to be transformed into legislation and be fully implemented. Only if the rules are right, we create the necessary investments in the ecological transformation. It is important that this is not only about climate protection. Other ecological, social and “governance” issues must be addressed as well. Above all, it is always about both: strengthening the market for green financial investments and making the risks for non-sustainable investments visible, in order to strengthen the ongoing movement towards divestment. All this can only be successful if the environmental and social standards in the EU as a whole will become stronger. Only then, green investments will pay off. Naturally, green financial products will only thrive if profitable green investment opportunities boom.
Please, find the whole speech of Commissioner Dombrovskis here for you to read: https://sven-giegold.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/2017-06-06-VP-Dombrovskis-sustainable-finance-speech-EMBARGOED-1.pdf