Sven Giegold
Mitglied der Grünen/EFA-Fraktion im Europaparlament

Sprecher Europagruppe Grüne

Peter Simon switches to the German Savings Bank Association: This revolving door turned too fast

Since Wednesday, Peter Simon (SPD) is the representative of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association (DSGV) to the European Union. According to president Helmut Schleweis, the DSGV wants to intensify its relations with the EU institutions with the finance policy maker Simon. Simon was an MEP for the German Social Democrats from 2009 to 2019 and, as a member of the S&D Group, he was deputy chairman of the Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON). Simon was also rapporteur in the ECON Committee on the banking package and played a key role in anchoring more proportionality in banking regulation. We have also worked together under his leadership to anchor the institutional protection schemes of savings banks and cooperative banks under the Deposit Guarantee Directive in European law. Since July, Simon has no longer been a member of the new European Parliament elected in May 2019. In its press release, the DSGV claims that Simon has thus been in a so-called “cooling-off period” for more than ten months, which enables him to work in the private sector.

 

MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:

 

“I appreciated Peter Simon as a colleague in the Economic Committee and worked closely with him. In particular, he made a strong contribution to reducing unnecessary bureaucracy for smaller banks and helped to advance the fight against tax havens and money laundering.

 

As publicly owned banks, the Savings Banks play an important role in providing regional economies and customers with financial services. Nevertheless, the Savings Banks have taken problematic positions in the past, for example on financial consumer protection and resistance to stricter capital requirements. In addition, the publicly owned banks regularly lobby together with the other German banking associations in Brussels and coordinate their positions with one another. Now, intimate knowledge of the relevant actors in EU institutions is migrating to the Savings Banks Association. As a former member of parliament, Simon still has access to the EU Parliament. In the coming months, important banking laws for the implementation of the new Basel standards and for a European deposit insurance scheme will be negotiated in the European Parliament.

 

The German Savings Banks Association’s statements on Simon’s cooling-off period are inconsistent. Until July 2019, Simon received his parliamentary salary and is entitled to a transitional allowance in the amount of the parliamentary basic salary until 31 May 2020. Contrary to what the Savings Banks Association suggests, there is no cooling-off period in the European Parliament. In contrast to the rules in the Bundestag, members of parliament can draw their new salary in addition to the transitional allowance and earn twice. Simon’s change therefore does neither violate any rules, nor does the change of sides of other members of different party families. But: Simon has not cooled off, but his place in parliament is still warm and his insider knowledge is up to date. This move was too fast and is damaging to the reputation of the European institutions. We urgently need a cooling-off period for MEPs to slow down the revolving door between Parliament and business lobbies. My attempt during the last parliamentary term to adopt at least initial rules for switching between politics and private sector was rejected in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs by votes of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and Liberals. I will now make a new attempt to suggest stricter rules for moves between politics and business.”

 

DSGV press release on the appointment of Peter Simon:

https://www.dsgv.de/newsroom/presse/200212_PM_Simon_Bevollmaechtigter_08.html

 

A list of transfers from the EU institutions to the business community can be found here:

https://corporateeurope.org/en/revolvingdoorwatch