Markus Ferber scandal highlights laxity in EU conflicts of interest rules
The double-dealings of a German MEP who helped draw up EU financial regulation whilst offering advice to companies for navigating those same laws has been condemned by GUE/NGL’s Fabio De Masi.
Markus Ferber, the MEP who authored the report on Markets in financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) has been exposed by Politico after companies, investors and fund managers whom Ferber reached out to expressed concern over this conflict of interest.
Commenting on Ferber’s failure to include this in his parliamentary declaration of interest, De Masi – who sits on Parliament's intergroup on Integrity, Transparency, Corruption and Organised Crime – said:
“I know Markus Ferber personally and regard him as an engaged and competent opponent in the debate about the regulation of financial markets and the control of food speculation. He has opposed his group’s position and shown independence in the fight against tax dumping by multinationals and the protection of savings banks.”
“But this is a clear case of a conflict of interest that even alerted fund managers. GUE/NGL has always opposed the watering down of the already weak and lax regulation of markets for financial instruments – such as derivatives on food and commodities,” he argued.
However, this weakening of the MiFID regulation has not prevented a number of big players such as Deutsche Bank to dominate individual markets. Similarly, rules for food and commodities trading are already weaker than those in the US, as De Masi continued:
“Members of Parliament have to serve the public interest. This is why it doesn’t matter whether Mr Ferber has offered products in financial services related to MiFID II for remuneration or pro bono. Even if he had been unpaid, lobbyists often reward such activities with lucrative jobs at the end of one’s mandate. Mr Ferber should therefore have declared his conflict of interest and should not have been responsible for this legislative procedure,” he reasoned.
“The European Parliament has a systematic problem with lobbying. The US Congress has tougher rules than us on financial interests. Representatives are prohibited from serving external interests whilst in Parliament. Additionally, the Parliament’s President has failed to sanction MEPs appropriately in the past.”
“GUE/NGL demands stricter transparency rules, a cooling-off period of three years for MEPs, Commissioners and high officials before entering the private sector in the same sector as their former line of work, a ban on party donations from companies and a cap on MEPs’ additional income,” he concluded.