jump to navigation

basel committee summer consultations June 28, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , add a comment

On the revised Basel III leverage ratio framework and disclosure requirements (deadline 20 September); and three consultations with a deadline of 27 September: on the sound management of risks related to money laundering and financing of terrorism; and on derivatives-related reforms to capital adequacy framework: capitalising counterparty credit risk exposures and capital requirements relating to bank exposures to central counterparties.

summer consultations in the uk June 27, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , add a comment

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is consulting (well, issued a “call for views”) on corporate responsibility (responses due by 27 September). Some of the issues raised in the document relate to responsible supply chain management. And the document asks:

Should corporate responsibility be recognised as a profession?

Meanwhile, there is a Call for Evidence on the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks (responses due by 7 August). Some received a letter inviting evidence with a list of questions, such as:

Do consumers fully understand the way industry describes the composition and quality of the products on sale?..Has the consumer developed unrealistic expectations of the food industry and if so, what role is there for the food industry and government in doing something about it?

Given that “value” products sold in the UK recently turned out to be products made with ingredients (such as horsemeat) different from those listed on the packaging it does seem that consumers didn’t understand the descriptions fully and that their expectations were unrealistic.

And there is a consultation on the draft action plan for open government (comments due 19 September). Here’s a taste:

With regards to our Open Data objectives going forward, our default position is for data to become open where it represents value for money for taxpayers, unless there are robust legal (including Freedom of Information (FoI) Act), security, or financial complexities. We will be enriching this plan with further commitments from the Cabinet Office Transparency Team and from other government departments. Our relentless focus will be on maximising the amount of data released in this way. In the relatively few areas where public open data publication is not possible there can still be benefits to sharing this information under strict conditions, a subject on which the Administrative Data Taskforce has recently reported.

A “relentless focus” on making data “open” where it “represents value for money for taxpayers”? There’s some material in the paper on public participation in policy-making, but it is rather amorphous.

lough erne declaration June 18, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : transparency , add a comment

The G8 made a declaration about tax transparency and trade. In addition to a number of statements about improving the ability of governments to impose and collect taxes, the declaration states:

Private enterprise drives growth, reduces poverty, and creates jobs and prosperity for people around the world. Governments have a special responsibility to make proper rules and promote good governance. Fair taxes, increased transparency and open trade are vital drivers of this….
Governments should roll back protectionism and agree new trade deals that boost jobs and growth worldwide.
Governments should cut wasteful bureaucracy at borders and make it easier and quicker to move goods between developing countries.
Governments should publish information on laws, budgets, spending, national statistics, elections and government contracts in a way that is easy to read and re-use, so that citizens can hold them to account.

This is a very limited version of what transparency might mean, and not nearly all of what citizens should be able to expect in order to hold governments to account.

announcement of eu-us trade negotiations June 17, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : transparency , add a comment

Happened today. The Council of the EU approved the beginning of negotiations on Friday. Regulatory convergence is an important aspect of the proposed FTA, and, although SIFMA worried recently that financial services regulation wouldn’t be part of the negotiations, that doesn’t seem so clear. The EU Commission says it’s not just about regulation of goods:

The need for regulatory convergence is not limited to trade in goods. With regards to financial services, for instance, negotiations should consider creating common frameworks for prudential cooperation. Stakeholders on both sides have provided guidance on where the most significant barriers lie.

I have been examining the consultations that produced “stakeholder” comments. Unsurprisingly the “stakeholders” most concerned to comment in the lead-up to the decision to begin negotiations were businesses and trade associations. And the official narrative is relentlessly positive about the advantages of these negotiations and ignores the discomfort of a range of groups concerned with issues of privacy, extravagant IP protections, the lives of workers, and the environment.

english only financial regulation June 14, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : multilingualism , add a comment

Yesterday the EU Ombudsman’s website published a Decision of the European Ombudsman closing his inquiry into complaint 1363/2012/BEH against the European Banking Authority. A German citizen:

submitted a petition to the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament (henceforth the ‘Committee on Petitions’) concerning the use of official languages on the website of the European Banking Authority (‘EBA’). Specifically, he pointed out that, contrary to Article 73(1) of Regulation 1093/2010[1] in conjunction with Article 4 of Regulation 1/58[2], the EBA’s website provides information exclusively in the English language. The complainant considered this practice also to amount to an instance of language discrimination. He stated that this was particularly serious, considering that the EBA’s activities affect the entire EU, including European bank customers, who should be able to grasp EBA guidelines without facing any language barriers. The complainant asked the Committee on Petitions to prevail upon the EBA to comply with Article 73(1) of Regulation 1093/2010. Referring to Parliament’s role as legislator, he also suggested that the Committee include in its assessment the other “European supervisory authorities” likely to give rise to the same concerns.

The Ombudsman found no maladministration although the Decision states:

As far as the external communication of EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies with citizens is concerned, it has been the Ombudsman’s longstanding position that it would be ideal for the material intended for such purposes to be published in all official languages. This position is based on the rationale that, in order for such communication to be effective, it is necessary that citizens can understand the information provided to them…. transparency and accessibility have a very important role to play in building citizen trust in EU institutions, while also constituting essential parts of the citizens’ right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. It follows from the above that it is of paramount importance for citizens to be able to access information concerning the EBA’s work in a language they can understand.

However, the Ombudsman noted that the EBA had not been in existence for very long, that it had limited resources, and that it was making progress in translating documents. Nevertheless, the EBA’s Annual Report for 2012 is today published only in English. The announcement of the publication of the Annual Report states:

A separate publication summarising the key features of the 2012 Annual Report is also published and it will soon be available in all EU languages.

This doesn’t look like a real commitment to multilingualism: a multilingual summary of the real document will be provided to those who don’t read English – and are therefore not included in a real sense in debates about EU financial regulation.

fairness? transparency? June 14, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : transparency , add a comment

The European Council’s press release about the forthcoming G8 summit states:

Promoting fairness and sustainable growth, jobs and development will be at the heart of the EU’s ambition for this G8 summit under UK with a special focus on the three T’s: trade, tax and transparency.

A quotation from José Manuael Barroso in the press release elucidates (?):

The European Union is coming to this G8 summit to promote global fairness: through unimpeded international trade as a vital engine for growth, jobs and development; by stepping up the global fight against tax evasion and avoidance, through automatic exchange of information; and through stronger transparency on revenue streams from extractive industries and forestry, on land governance and on government data.

I think they have a different understanding of fairness and transparency from mine, especially when it comes to the linkages between transparency and trade. A week ago the EU’s General Court held in Stichting Corporate Europe Observatory v Commission (Case T-93/11) that the Commission was entitled to respond to a request for access to documents by withholding documents relating to trade negotiations between the EU and India which were shared with trade associations which had participated in meetings as experts with respect to market access. Corporate Europe Observatory claimed:

that the documents at issue were sent, in full and without indication that they were in any way of a confidential nature, to trade associations with very large memberships and, therefore, to a very large, possibly indeterminate, number of persons, which effectively amounted to publishing or releasing those documents into the public domain.

The General Court adopted a rather formalistic approach. For example:

the Commission’s dissemination of the documents at issue cannot be regarded as having been intended to, and liable to, make those documents known to the public, that is to say, to an indeterminate group of persons, considered in general and in the abstract..Nor can the group of putative recipients of the documents requested, namely the members of the trade associations participating in the work of the advisory committee and of the working groups on market access, be treated as synonymous with the ‘public’. Those members also represent a specific group of persons defined according to a predetermined criterion, in this case membership of a trade association whose expertise is required in connection with the provision of assistance to the Commission for the purpose of deciding upon a strategy for access to the markets of a third State.

Not fair. Not transparent.

iosco investor education gateway June 4, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : financial education , add a comment

Is here. IOSCO investor education materials are available via the gateway and there is a search function which provides some information about IOSCO members’ activities with respect to investor education and some links to their materials.