You called us for evidence
Last autumn the European Commission launched a massive consultation, or exercise if you will, to get evidence from all interested stakeholders on the impact, gaps and inconsistencies of EU’s finance legislation.
There were practically no limitations on what part of EU’s finance legislation you could report problems on. There was just a very specific and strict template where you were asked to choose your piece of legislation, summarise your problem with it and provide relevant and verifiable empirical evidence and concrete examples. If you did not provide empirical evidence it would be thrown in the bin, as stated by a person from the European Commission. And get it all done in four months. Piece of cake, right?
NFU responded to the Call for Evidence with 24 pages and 13 examples from EU’s finance legislation where we and our affiliates have found problems, gaps, inconsistencies and unintended consequences with different pieces of EU legislation (read our full consultation reply here).
It was a fear from the start that this type of exercise would be a possibility for the industry to loosen up the rules a bit and in time lead to deregulation. This turned out to be somewhat true, but at first I also saw the exercise as a way to put forward many of our concerns regarding gaps in the legislation concerning whistleblowing, collective bargaining, employee representation etc. The exercise could be a way to improve and strengthen some legislation to the benefit of the finance employees.
So what happened? Well, earlier this week I went to Brussels to attend the Public Hearing on the Call for Evidence where the Commission presented some of the conclusions drawn from the consultation. The European Commission received a totalt of 288 replies, where 19 of the replies came from civil society and trade unions and 7 from academia and think tanks. The rest of the respondents represented more or less the industry. The Commission admitted that they have not yet been able to actually process all the information and evidence received. So not only did we find this exercise as very resource demanding but the Commission did too. Will they even be able to process and consider all of the information and evidence received?
What the Commission has been able to conclude so far from the replies is that they are open to deregulate some areas to better support business and growth in Europe. I absolutely agree that some parts of the legislation need to be more proportionate for small and non-risky business and that parts of the legislation need adjustments, such as reporting requirements.
But what we also need is good and fair regulation where interests are balanced properly. I do not believe that an exercise like this should lead to any further deregulation on the basis of evidence provided only by the industry. Other interests have to be taken into account as well.
Because as it appeared at the Public Hearing and the summary of the replies, only the interests and evidence of companies were taken into account. The examples produced by the civil society were not mentioned at all by Commissioner Hill in his speech. Academia, civil society and trade unions were underrepresented on all panels at the Public Hearing and our replies were not really taken into account in the summary produced by the Commission.
So I ask myself two things, what will happen to our concerns and the evidence that we have provided? And what does the Commission itself think about this exercise, is this really the way forward?