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Deeper financial reforms need more popular support

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Brussels, 19 June 2019 – Finance Watch, the independent non-profit association with a mission of making finance serve society, today released its Annual Report 2018. It describes how the organisation has succeeded during the last year in broadening its civil society network to gain more and more support for its demands for more fundamental reforms of the financial sector.

This activity report also gives an overview about Finance Watch’s key positions and publications linked to the EU’s legislative agenda such as Sustainable Finance, FinTech, Non-performing loans, the Pan-European Personal Pension Product, and Brexit. The ten-year anniversary of the global financial crisis in September 2018 was a good moment to alert the media and citizens to how little has fundamentally changed in the financial system; Finance Watch’s report, “Ten Years After: Back to Business as Usual”, contained a critical assessment of post-crisis financial regulation in Europe and gained EU wide media coverage.

Benoît Lallemand, Secretary General of Finance Watch, said:

“2018 was a year of Europe-wide protests – from climate demonstrations to ‘gilets jaunes’ and the rise of toxic populism. People are demanding real change. It was also the tenth anniversary of the financial crisis. Experts agree that the response to the crisis deepened inequality while inflating the price of financial assets – creating the conditions for a future crash. In a nutshell, the financial system keeps avoiding structural reforms by pushing the consequences of the status quo onto society.

“But deeper reforms need more popular support. That is why we joined forces with more than 60 civil society organisations in 2018 to convene a global campaign to #ChangeFinance. As the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis approached, the coalition staged 136 actions in 18 countries to bring attention to these demands, including creative protests, films and street theatre.”

Rainer Lenz, Chair of the Board of Directors at Finance Watch, said:

“Our strategic goal is to build national Finance Watch networks across Europe to enable coordinated action between European and national levels, which is key for maximising impact. The foundation of the “Bürgerbewegung Finanzwende – Finance Watch Deutschland” in 2018 marked a first milestone in this strategy. Finance Watch networks in other EU countries will follow in the coming months and years.”

Pervenche Berès, Member of the European Parliament (S&D) from 1994 until 2019, said:

“This year has been rich in financial reforms, from the ESAs review to sustainable finance. As usual, Finance Watch has been an effective and ambitious counter-power to the financial industry lobbies and helped citizens’ voices to be heard for a fair and efficient financial regulation. They have always an answer present when I needed their expertise! Thank you for that also. As I leave the Parliament, I am proud to have contributed to its foundation.”

Olivier Guersent, Director-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union at the European Commission, said:

“In financial services, like in any other sector, consumers’ voice is utterly important. I appreciate the determination shown by Finance Watch to build an effective consumer voice and to make it better heard at all levels of policymaking in the financial services sector.”

ENDS

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NOTES FOR EDITORS

Finance Watch is a members-based association. Our members include non-profit organisations and expert individuals from Europe and beyond, who participate in our EU-wide network of civil society actors committed to making finance serve society. Members receive advocacy advice and intelligence, participate in our events and workshops, and work on common campaigns.

Our staff of 12 plus four consultants, which includes former finance professionals, is based mainly in Brussels. It supports our mission and our members by providing advocacy advice, public campaigns and communication, and it produces advocacy and technical materials for policymakers to counter the arguments of financial industry lobbying.

Finance Watch has full members and associate members. Associate members can attend but not vote at General Assemblies. The General Assembly of members meets twice a year to debate and approve Finance Watch’s action priorities, approve the budget and accounts, elect the Board of Directors, and approve the membership of the Committee of Transparency and Independence (CTI).

In 2018, Finance Watch welcomed 15 associations and expert individuals from the former European Financial Inclusion Network (EFIN) as new associate Members. At the end of the year, Finance Watch had 85 Members from 16 European countries, including 50 organisations and 35 expert individuals, of which 69 are full members and 16 are associate members.

Finance Watch remains more than ever a key resource for public interest advocacy on financial matters. Our organisation representing European citizens must do more with less to counterbalance the powerful financial sector lobbies in Europe and the rest of the world. Finance Watch is supported financially by its members, philanthropic foundations, public donations, and the EU – which together provide the income needed to develop our activities in research, advocacy, communication and network development.

Finance Watch’s resources for 2018 totaled €2,030,907 and increased by €238,837 (+13%) from 2017 (€1,792,069). Our main funders were the European Union (€1,100,000), MAVA Fondation pour la Nature (€688,442), Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer participated (€60,000), Open Society Foundations (€41,348), European Climate Foundation (€15,333).

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