Fruitful meetings in Brussels
Two days in Brussels were dedicated to meetings between NFU and EU Parliamentarians and Commission staff, with very good results.
The NFU secretariat’s conclusion from the meetings is that the Commission is more willing than ever to take the views of finance employees on board. A window of opportunity is open for financial sector unions who want to influence the development.
On the agenda for NFU, this time represented by Magnus Lundberg and Arvid Ahrin-Larsson, was meetings with Swedish MEP Olle Ludvigsson as well as meetings with European Commission staff.
The meeting with Olle Ludvigsson focused on discussing the prerequisites for cooperation with NFU on topics of mutual interest. It was concluded that the issue of sales vs advice is an area where NFU can help and feed in knowledge and ideas to him. The NFU secretariat will continue the dialogue with Olle during December to flesh out a concrete policy proposal.
The three following meetings with Commission staff centered around the themes of corporate governance and crisis management.
Concerning corporate governance in financial institutions, NFU had the opportunity to explain at length the value of employee participation in governance structures. Our views were much appreciated and we also got the chance to suggest practical solutions for bringing employees into the equation. We emphasised that the single most important issue was to establish a connection between the board and employee representatives/trade union, to enable the board to get information on what the company is doing from an employee perspective. NFU will stay in close contact with the Commission official in this matter.
The meeting on crisis management also turned out in a positive way, although the the added value of the employee perspective was not so much acknowledged by the Commission to begin with. However, NFU explained the crucial role that employees can play in early intervention systems, both towards management and external supervisors, and eventually got a better understanding for this.
Last but not least, NFU met with staff from Commissioner Barnier’s cabinet, and although we were given limited time, we got the chance to introduce ourselves and NFU’s prioirities. We were told that Commissioner Barnier has a firm commitment to make the views of finance employees count in the legislative process, and that it is not just about paying lip service, but a real intent.
NFU also participated in the bi-annual meeting between UNI Europa Finance and the Commission’s DG Internal Market on Thursday. Being a more formal venue, the meeting centered mostly around informing about recent and upcoming legislative proposals. For example, the Commission informed that legislation on sanctions in the financial sector is planned, where whistle blowing mechanisms will play an important role. There is a clear opportunity for employee involvement in these, and NFU will closely follow the development in this and the many other proposals that are due in the coming months.
All in all, the meetings were a good indication that trade unions really can influence legislation if we are prepared, constructive and percieved as a legitimate and knowledgeable actor.