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Hundreds of MEP candidates pledge to challenge the financial lobby

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Successful launch of EU elections campaign by the financial reform coalition Change Finance

Brussels, 9 May 2019 – Within the first week of its launch, an EU-wide campaign of financial reform movement  ChangeFinance.org has succeeded in getting 230 candidates for the European Parliament elections to sign a pledge challenging the power of the financial lobby. After this first phase of the launch, the campaign is now taking off in many more EU countries.

In the pledge, candidates for the European Parliament are committing to five promises. These promises include measures that would leave the financial lobby with far less firepower, such as reducing to the minimum interactions of all members of EU institutions with financial lobbyists.

For the next two weeks, citizens can continue using an online tool to send letters to more candidate MEPs urging them to sign on to the pledge:

The financial crisis did not lead to reforms that will prevent another crisis. In fact the changes needed to secure a financial system for the benefit of citizens and the environment have barely seen the light of day.

This is in no small part due to the power that the financial lobby wields on the EU institutions. In recent years, some small steps forward have been taken by the EU institutions, including the European Parliament. But according to the Change Finance coalition, there is still a mighty long way to go. In the next five years, members of the European Parliament will have to face the challenge of the 1.700 lobbyists that represent the interests of banks, hedge funds, insurance companies and other financial corporations.

The civil society-led movement Change Finance which demands fundamental reform of the financial system is composed of citizens, charities, think tanks, NGOs, environmental organisations, faith groups and trade unions:

Shonan Kothari from Finance Watch, the independent non-profit association with a mission of making finance serve society, said:

“We’re delighted that – within a matter of days – we’ve seen 230 candidates across 19 EU member states pledge to fight the power of the financial lobby. We hope that many citizens will help us to grow this number and write to their EU elections candidates in the coming two weeks. We need as many of our representatives as possible to join us in fighting for a financial system that serves people and planet, rather than just its own interests.”

Kenneth Haar from Corporate Europe Observatory, a research and campaign group that challenges the influence of Big Business and corporate lobby groups in EU policy-making, said:

“There is a need for more transparency around the financial lobby in Brussels, but transparency is not enough. We need measures that can push big banks and hedge funds out of their present role as de-facto advisers to the Commission, to the European Central Bank, and to members of the European Parliament.”

Grégoire Niaudet from Secours Catholique – Caritas France, a French catholic non-profit organisation promoting solidarity between all people, said:

“Financial lobbyists too often persuade politicians to allow corporations to engage in activities harmful to ordinary citizens. These include speculation on food, housing and public services.”

Myriam Vander Stichele from the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), said:

“It is our hope with this pledge to build strong political will in the new parliament, even before it has been convened. So financial reforms that put the interests of people ahead of the interests of finance can start immediately.”

ENDS

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Notes to editors

The inspiration for this initiative comes from the WHO Convention on Tobacco Control in which article 5.3 prohibits official bodies from exchanges with lobbyists from the tobacco industry.

More information on the campaign – as well as the Change Finance coalition – can be found on https://www.changefinance.org/

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