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Procedura : 2019/2888(RSP)
Przebieg prac nad dokumentem podczas sesji
Dokument w ramach procedury : O-000031/2019

Teksty złożone :

O-000031/2019 (B9-0054/2019)

Debaty :

PV 24/10/2019 - 14
CRE 24/10/2019 - 14

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Debaty
Czwartek, 24 października 2019 r. - Strasburg Wersja poprawiona

14. Nominacja dyrektora wykonawczego EUNB A. Farkasa na stanowisko dyrektora generalnego AFME (debata)
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PV
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  President. – The next item is the debate on the oral question to the Commission on the appointment of EBA Executive Director Farkas as AFME Chief Executive, by Paul Tang and Jonás Fernández, on behalf of the S&D Group, and Sven Giegold (O-000031/2019 - B9-0054/2019) (2019/2888(RSP)).

Before I open the debate, I would like to inform you that, in order to request catch-the-eye and blue cards, it will be possible to use both the standard registration and the new system allowing Members to register electronically. Therefore, I invite you to always bring your voting cards.

Should you wish to register for catch-the-eye, I invite you to do so starting from now, without waiting for the end of the debate.

 
  
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  Paul Tang, author. – Madam President, thank you also for explaining the catch-the-eye procedure. I appreciate it. Recently, it was announced that Mr Adam Farkas, Executive Director of the European Banking Authority (EBA), will become the CEO of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME). It’s remarkable, right? It’s astonishing. It’s flabbergasting that the supervisor of that sector becomes the main lobbyist for that same sector.

The EBA is responsible for supervising the EU’s banking sector and for setting technical standards implementing key financial regulations. This makes the EBA of fundamental importance in supervising the financial sector. It also makes it a constant lobbying target for the industry. Especially AFME, with its technical expertise and focus on implementing measures drafted by the EBA, has permanent interaction with the European Banking Authority. You can just imagine my surprise when I learned that the EBA’s Executive Director will become AFME’s CEO.

Farkas’ move gives the banking lobby privileged insight into the EBA’s decision—making and private access to high—level staff. As such, banks will be able to excessively influence key pieces of legislation. What is worse, this move may give EU staff the wrong idea that if you are friendly towards the sector that you are meant to regulate then you will be awarded a well—paying job. In other words, this opens the door for very perverse incentives.

The EU rules need to prevent this and want to prevent this. Article 16 of the EU Staff Regulations states that EU officials are prohibited from lobbying staff of their former institutions for a period of one year. As CEO of AFME, maintaining contact with the EBA is the headline of one’s job description. Is it realistic to expect Farkas to sit in AFME’s tower, avoiding contact with his organisation’s main interlocutor?

The Staff Regulations also allow the blocking of professional moves if that leads to a conflict with the legitimate interests of the institution. Is good supervision of the banking sector no longer a legitimate interest of the European Banking Authority? Because that’s what’s severely undermined by Farkas’ move. Furthermore, if this case of revolving doors doesn’t lead to a conflict of interest sufficiently severe to block it, if Farkas is allowed to join AFME, any EU official will be allowed to join any organisation. In effect, it renders Article 16 meaningless.

Yesterday, we launched a petition with 58 NGOs against this case of revolving doors. Many people are disappointed, frustrated, or even outright angry. On behalf of the citizens of Europe, I therefore ask you: do you deem Farkas’ move to be in line with the Europeans institutions high ethical standards? Do you agree with Mr Farkas remaining in his position until the end of January? Will you exert pressure on the EBA to change its position and block Mr Farkas’ professional move? And what will you do to put our ethical standards into practice and prevent further cases of revolving doors from undermining citizens’ trust in our institutions?

 
  
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  Neven Mimica, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, the European Banking Authority (EBA) is bound by the Staff Regulations, which contain a comprehensive ethical framework for officials of European institutions and agencies. This framework includes post-employment restrictions, which were strengthened by the 2014 Staff Regulations reform. The EBA Board of Supervisors is the decision-making body responsible for deciding on and enforcing post-employment restrictions. It decided on the requirements to be imposed on Mr Farkas for him to join the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME).

The European Commission representative does not vote in the Board of Supervisors. However, the Commission is a Board member and is thereby entitled to contribute to discussions at Board level. In this context, the Commission pleaded for the strictest possible approach towards Mr Farkas’ departure, taking into consideration the Staff Regulations.

The decision taken by the EBA Board of Supervisors includes restrictions on Mr Farkas both while in service at the EBA and after leaving the EBA. With regard to restrictions while in service at the EBA, the decision taken by the EBA Board of Supervisors includes measures to cover the notice period to which he is entitled under the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants. These measures include immediate cessation of any activities related to the preparation of EBA regulatory or supervisory policies, attendance at Board meetings, external representation of EBA and access to information outside the operations and accounting department. The restrictions also include three months’ ‘gardening leave’ in which he ceases to exercise his role as appointing authority under the Staff Regulations and authorising officer under the Financial Regulation. He may not be on the EBA premises except upon the request of the Chairperson and he ceases to have access to EBA systems.

With regard to restrictions after leaving the service, the EBA Board of Supervisors has ruled that Mr Farkas may not engage in lobbying or advocacy vis-à-vis the EBA nor have professional contact with EBA staff for a period of 24 months. He may not contribute to the work of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe on any topics treated by him in his last three years of service at the EBA for a period of 18 months.

Therefore, restrictions are in place to prevent conflicts of interest during the notice period until the effective departure of Mr Farkas, as well as after his leaving the EBA. It is the responsibility of the EBA to enforce these restrictions.

 
  
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  Jonás Fernández, en nombre del Grupo S&D. – Señora presidenta, los últimos años han sido años duros para creer y confiar en las instituciones. Según todas las encuestas, percibimos que los ciudadanos europeos tienen una confianza menor en las instituciones democráticas y que esa menor confianza está siendo usada por populismos y por nacionalismos para minar no solamente el proyecto europeo, sino también los principios fundamentales de la democracia liberal.

Y he de decir que la noticia de la salida del director ejecutivo de la Autoridad Bancaria Europea a uno de los principales lobbies financieros europeos contribuye a esa percepción de ausencia de independencia de las instituciones públicas, a esa percepción de que los servidores públicos, los funcionarios y los políticos, en la mente de algunos, no servimos a los verdaderos propósitos que nos han traído hasta aquí.

Y yo creo que esta ocasión es una buena oportunidad para reflexionar sobre el sistema que tenemos de control. Que la Comisión defienda un sistema en el cual los incumbentes —las personas que están trabajando con aquellos compañeros que van a salir de esa institución para trabajar en otro sitio— son los más apropiados para valorar si existe o no conflicto de interés, realmente no tiene ningún sentido.

Yo no voy a discutir la aplicación de la regulación. Lo que sí quiero discutir es que esta regulación no tiene ningún sentido y que necesitamos tener una institución independiente, una institución europea independiente que evalúe, caso por caso, este tipo de situaciones, porque será imposible que las personas que trabajan con aquellos que desean salir de las instituciones públicas hacia lobbies sean capaces de tener un criterio independiente.

Y, por lo tanto, yo creo que este debate es importante para abrir ese debate de cómo revisamos las normas.

 
  
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  Damien Carême, au nom du groupe Verts/ALE. – Madame la Présidente, comme vient de le dire mon collègue, la collusion entre intérêts privés et publics ne peut plus durer. Le mélange des genres et les pantouflages sapent, à juste titre, la confiance des citoyennes et des citoyens dans les institutions européennes.

En France, c’est un sport national. M. Macron travaillait à la banque Rothschild avant de devenir ministre, puis président, le premier ministre était lobbyiste pour le groupe nucléaire Areva, mais on nous dit que tout cela est normal et que cela n’a rien à voir avec les cadeaux faits aux plus fortunés, ni avec l’étrange engouement pour le gouffre financier que représente le nucléaire aujourd’hui.

L’Europe n’est pas en reste en matière de pantouflage avec un ancien président de la Commission européenne, M. Barroso, qui a été débauché par la banque Goldman Sachs.

Aujourd’hui, nous sommes face à un autre cas de pantouflage ahurissant où un haut fonctionnaire, actuellement en charge de superviser les banques et de limiter les risques d’une nouvelle crise financière, va devenir, dans quelques semaines, le directeur du principal lobby de la finance, dont le rôle essentiel – s’il est besoin de le rappeler – est de freiner au maximum toute nouvelle réglementation bancaire. Il s’agit du directeur exécutif de l’Autorité bancaire européenne, Ádám Farkas, qui va devenir, à partir de février 2020, directeur général de l’Association pour les marchés financiers en Europe (AFME), l’un des principaux groupes de lobbying du secteur financier. Quelques conditions ont été posées – et vous les avez rappelées, tout à l’heure – par l’Autorité bancaire européenne, comme l’interdiction pendant 24 mois de faire du lobby vis-à-vis du personnel de son ancienne institution ou, plus improbable encore, l’interdiction, pendant 18 mois, de conseiller ou de travailler sur des sujets directement liés à son précédent travail. Mais qui y croit vraiment? Et surtout, qui pourra le vérifier? Et quand bien même il ne ferait pas de lobby, il est en possession de documents et d’informations précieuses et confidentielles qu’il va désormais pouvoir utiliser au nom d’intérêts privés.

Cette situation est scandaleuse et ne devrait pas être permise. C’est pourquoi les règles en matière de pantouflage doivent changer. Elles doivent être plus strictes pour préserver l’intégrité de nos institutions et renforcer la confiance des citoyennes et des citoyens. Elles ne devraient laisser aucune place aux soupçons de conflit et collusions d’intérêt. On a besoin, par exemple, de fixer des périodes bien plus longues de transition entre deux activités aux conflits d’intérêts potentiels.

J’ajoute que ces règles doivent être communes à toutes les institutions et à toutes les agences de l’Union européenne pour éviter des conditions fixées au cas par cas et en fonction de l’agence concernée.

Enfin, il faut créer une autorité européenne indépendante en charge de l’éthique. Cette autorité aurait la mission de superviser la bonne application de ces règles communes.

Mais, en attendant cela, chers collègues, nous pouvons déjà agir au niveau de notre institution pour préserver au mieux son intégrité face à ces pratiques scandaleuses. C’est pourquoi je vous propose, comme le Parlement l’a déjà fait pour les lobbyistes de Monsanto, de refuser d’accorder à M. Farkas le droit d’accès au Parlement européen. Ce serait un signal fort pour affirmer notre volonté de lutter contre les conflits d’intérêts. Le temps des petits arrangements et échanges de bons procédés entre grands patrons et hauts fonctionnaires doit maintenant cesser.

 
  
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  Domènec Ruiz Devesa (S&D). – Señora presidenta, yo realmente celebro que podamos mantener hoy este debate en la Cámara, aunque ciertamente no es la mejor hora ni el mejor día; muchos de nuestros colegas ya se han ido después de las votaciones, pero bueno...

Celebro, por otro lado, la presencia de ciudadanos en la tribuna, que pueden seguir este debate, y aprovecho para saludarlos porque es un debate de gran importancia, como han puesto de relieve mis colegas de grupo, los señores Tang y Fernández —a los que felicito por haber suscitado esta pregunta oral—, y mi colega y también amigo Carême —de los Verdes—, porque estamos claramente ante, por lo menos, una apariencia de conflicto de intereses. Y ya sabemos, señor Mimica, que la mujer del César no debe ser solo honrada, sino que también lo debe parecer.

Entonces, es difícilmente comprensible que, en este caso, se le hayan aplicado unas condiciones tan favorables al señor Farkas, porque —como bien se ha dicho antes— es difícil de creer que, diciendo que se le prohíbe dar consejos sobre una cosa u otra relacionada con su actividad anterior, se soluciona el problema, porque, como se ha dicho —y los colegas que lo han suscitado tienen toda la razón—, es prácticamente inverificable. Es decir, cualquiera de nosotros se sienta a una mesa y empieza a dar información de su etapa anterior, sin ningún tipo de posibilidad de actuar contra eso.

Yo celebro que la Comisión, con su voz —y no voto— en ese Board —en ese Consejo, me refiero— de la Autoridad Bancaria Europea, haya pedido la aplicación más estricta de la norma, pero es evidente que no ha sido suficiente.

Las normas deben hacerse más estrictas y también su aplicación. Es evidente que en este caso tendría que haberse aplicado una transición obligatoria de por lo menos doce meses al señor Farkas.

 
  
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  Paul Tang (S&D). – Madam President, I wish to thank the Commission for the answers, but I’m afraid – you heard my colleagues – they are not convincing or adequate. You mentioned the conditions placed upon Mr Farkas’ move. I’ve read them and, to be frank, they are simply inadequate. I already mentioned the impossibility of banning Mr Farkas from having professional contacts with the EBA. Will he really not interact with his organisation’s main interlocutor? Besides, is not the private context just as much of a problem as the professional context?

Indeed, the EBA also states that Mr Farkas can’t contribute to activities on topics directly linked to the work that he carried out in the last three years. Frankly, I find this laughable. I cannot think of a single topic that AFME covers that doesn’t fall within the remit of the EBA and doesn’t relate to the work of Mr Farkas.

I ask again, will Mr Farkas sit in the AFME tower, working on nothing substantial? Will he simply be AFME’s poster-boy, and who will monitor whether afterwards Farkas abides by the EBA’s restrictions as also put forward by Jonás Fernández? Who makes sure that the restrictions are monitored?

It’s even worse that Mr Farkas is allowed to stay at the EBA right up to his departure. His interests diverge from the EBA, his loyalty is fundamentally compromised, and still the EBA makes the European taxpayer feed the bill for Farkas’ luxurious transition period. It’s unacceptable.

Finally, and this was raised here as well, I missed from your response, Mr Commissioner, a sense of the structural pattern of revolving doors with the EU’s institutions. After Barroso’s move to Goldman Sachs, Neelie Kroes to Uber and Jonathan Hill to UBS you still fail to take appropriate action. When will you finally enforce your own rules and live up to your and our standards? When will you finally put an end to the Achilles heel of your institution’s integrity?

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Patrick Breyer (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, when a senior bank supervisor, while still in office, negotiates working for the other side, there is clearly a public appearance that this person is being bought out of office. Public trust in the financial sector is low anyway, and they have the impression that it is intertwined with banking supervision. Therefore, a cooling-off period of just a few weeks is clearly insufficient. Also, we have no idea when he started the negotiations. Was that at a time when he was still exercising his functions and did it have any influence on his functions? Can someone tell us about that?

I believe that there is a very legitimate interest to have a sufficient cooling—off period to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. It’s an issue of trust. But if one thinks the Staff Regulations are not sufficient for imposing such a period then would one not propose a reform?

 
  
 

(End of catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Neven Mimica, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, I would like to thank the honourable Members for this important debate under this oral question. The Commission considers that its high ethical standards would be best enforced in the European Banking Authority (EBA) and more generally across all the agencies by putting in place a harmonised legal framework. This Commission, and I might also speak on behalf of the incoming European Commission, will also be taking into account the debate and the outcome of this debate here in Parliament when looking at and reviewing the post-employment ethical regulations.

Under the existing legal framework, it is the responsibility of the EBA Board of Supervisors to implement this legal framework by independently taking decisions on post-employment restrictions in accordance with its founding regulations. It is also the responsibility of the EBA Board of Supervisors and of the EBA to check and enforce these restrictions.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

 
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