more eu (non?) transparency issues November 19, 2013Posted by Bradley in : disclosure, governance , add a comment
Euractiv shows that it isn’t just with respect to conflict minerals that the EU is having difficulty in trying to enhance transparency. The Commission’s proposals in early 2013 (but foreshadowed in 2011) to increase disclosure with respect to social and environmental matters met some organized opposition. The European Council touched on the issue in May in the context of addressing tax evasion (measures on this may be more likely):
The proposal amending the Directives on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by large companies and groups will be examined notably with a view to ensuring country-by-country reporting by large companies and groups
Here’s what the Euractiv article says about this:
“It is strange that they have pulled back on what leaders agreed so recently,” said another source on condition of anonymity. “There is some suggestion that it was very late at night [at the summit] when the leaders made their pledge, and not all of them understood what they were agreeing to!” the source continued.
courts and the executive: control, legal certainty, sub-delegation October 30, 2013Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment
From the judgment of Lords Mance and Toulson in the UK Supreme Court today in R (on the application of Reilly and another) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
The courts have no more important function than to ensure that the executive complies with the requirements of Parliament as expressed in a statute. Further, particularly where the statute concerned envisages regulations which will have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of many people, the importance of legal certainty and the impermissibility of sub-delegation are of crucial importance. The observations of Scott LJ in Blackpool Corporation v Locker  1 KB 349, 362 are in point: “John Citizen” should not be “in complete ignorance of what rights over him and his property have been secretly conferred by the minister”, as otherwise “[f]or practical purposes, the rule of law … breaks down because the aggrieved subject’s legal remedy is gravely impaired”.
review of the relationship between the uk and the eu continues October 21, 2013Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment
The UK Government has announced a number of reviews as part of its ongoing review of the balance of competences described as “an audit of what the EU does and how it affects the UK.” Contributions are now invited by January 13, 2014 to the review of the single market in services, cohesion, agriculture, fisheries, competition and consumer policy, and fundamental rights. Contributions are invited by January 17, 2014 for the reviews of financial services and the free movement of capital and the EU budget.
eu citizenship report 2013 May 8, 2013Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment
Bolstering EU citizens’ full participation in the democratic life of the EU, at all levels, is the very essence of EU citizenship.
How are they going to do this? The Commission is looking into barriers to voting (disenfranchisement when citizens leave their Member State of origin, lack of an EU right to vote in national elections in a host state). And it plans develop a European public space and to publish a handbook:
To raise awareness about EU citizenship and the concrete rights it confers to all EU citizens, in particular their electoral rights, and about the possibilities to participate in the decision-making process of the EU, the Commission will produce and promote the dissemination of a hand-book presenting in a clear, concise and readable way, the rights attached to EU citizenship. The handbook could be distributed by national authorities to every young EU citizen reaching voting age, but also on other occasions, such as the registration of new births, the issuing of passports, the acquisition of a Member State’s nationality,or as material to be included in school curricula, in particular on citizenship education.
That’s really likely to work.
governing for the rich November 19, 2012Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment
Naked Capitalism explains how banks are ensuring they won’t be subject to the Basel 3 tougher capital rules despite public pronouncements by the G20 that they would implement reforms to financial regulation. And the Financial Stability Board has only published peer reviews of implementation of transnational standards for 6 countries so far – the last reports were published in January 2012. These are the reports that are supposed to keep the G20 countries honest about implementation.
Part of the story that’s being sold is about how all of the new rules are going to make it harder for consumers to borrow money. But (too) easy credit was part of the problem.
Meanwhile, David Cameron (speaking to the CBI) says he wants to stop people going to court to challenge what the government is doing. The press has been reporting this aspect of the speech. Making it more expensive to initiate judicial review is part of the idea. Cameron says the point of this is “to make people think twice about time-wasting.” But it also means it will be harder for those with fewer resources to challenge government than for those with greater resources. The rich can do as much time-wasting as they like (provided they act quickly). Of course, speedy action is also easier for those with more resources.
But Cameron also wants to limit consultation:
Consultations, impact assessments, audits, reviews, stakeholder management, securing professional buy-in, complying with EU procurement rules, assessing sector feedback this is not how we became one of the most powerful, prosperous nations on earth.
I think becoming one of the most powerful and prosperous nations on earth had something to do with invading countries far away and exploiting the people who lived there.
It’s not an accident he gave this speech to the CBI, because the whole message is about promoting business. And we can be sure that banks and other large businesses will continue to have the access necessary to make their views known.
eesc on participatory democracy November 15, 2012Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment
From the press release:
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has called for the full implementation of Article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty as a means to strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the EU and avoiding the rise of extremism in Europe. Investing in Article 11 will help bring citizens closer to the EU project and provide the platform for the institutions to listen and better take into account the views of its citizens. The EESC should be a key player in this process.
The opinion should be available from this page.
mid-week medley November 14, 2012Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment
SEC and DOJ publish a Guide to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the SEC publishes a Small Entity Compliance Guide to Conflict Minerals Disclosure. FSA consults on Implementation of the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive. EBA consults on prudent valuation.
The European Commission proposes legislation to increase the number of women on corporate boards (because non-binding approaches have not worked) (details here):
The Commission has proposed legislation with the aim of attaining a 40% objective of the under-represented sex in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies, with the exception of small and medium enterprises. Currently, boards are dominated by one gender: 85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up 15% and 8.9% respectively. Despite an intense public debate and some voluntary initiatives at national and European level, the situation has not changed significantly in recent years: an incremental average increase of the number of women on boards of just 0.6 percentage points per year has been recorded since 2003.
Viviane Reding says it is a “historic day for gender equality.” Why a targetof 40% represents equality, I am not sure.
The EU has set up a competition for young people (8-24) to go to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.
is meaningful citizen participation in government possible? October 23, 2012Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment
After the Presidential debates – endless reiterations of the same rather meaningless and often misleading slogans – where the viewers of the debates are encouraged to make their voting decisions on the basis of who performed better in the debate it’s complicated to think about the idea of citizen participation in government. But there’s lots of information available about the Presidential candidates, even if it’s hard to slog through the sludge of representation and misrepresentation. Making decisions about the downballot is even more complicated.
This isn’t the only election happening right now:
In the UK there’s an experiment going on to have elected Police and Crime Commissioners to hold Chief Constables and police forces to account(under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011). Elections are to be held on November 15th and there’s some rather scary advertising going on with posters for bus shelters suggesting that criminals want voters to stay home on November 15th. And video ads with the same message:
This is a bit odd- as if the police will just stop fighting crime if people don’t show up to vote. Especially as funding cuts are a larger problem for the police than any lack of citizen participation in voting could be. Presumably the ads are about emphasizing the idea that it is important to be tough on crime. And they suggest the crimes it is important to be tough on are scary ones such as vandalism, burglary, and mugging. Not financial crimes such as fare dodging and fraud.
And making people aware of the fact of the elections doesn’t help them to decide who to vote for. There’s a website which will have information about the candidates as of October 26th. But you can see the list of candidates elsewhere, for example at the website of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.
In Humberside John Prescott is a candidate. But there are a number of other candidates: Godfrey Bloom (UKIP), Simone Butterworth (Liberal Democrat), Paul Davison (Independent) (“I retired this year after 30 years with Humberside Police as a Chief Superintendent in charge of policing the East Riding”), Neil Eyre (Independent) (“Most people don’t want politics and policing in the same melting pot”), Matthew Grove (Conservative) and Walter Sweeney (Independent). Matthew Grove says that Gordon Wasserman, the Goverment’s advisor on policing and criminal justice, says he is the “ideal person” to be the PCC. But that’s because they are both conservatives. So how can citizens decide whom to support?
eesc on tax havens September 20, 2012Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment
I have been reading some of the Economic and Social Committee’s opinions, and am very struck by the tough tone of a recent opinion on tax havens (Joe Biden gets a special mention in the context of the opinion’s description of Delaware as a tax haven), published in the Official Journal at the end of July. Here’s a brief excerpt:
There are reasonable grounds for stating that the financial crisis has been driven in part by complex and opaque transactions carried out by financial operators domiciled in jurisdictions that maintain financial secrecy, causing serious loss for investors and the purchasers of such financial products. Tax havens host off-balance sheet transactions by financial institutions, as well as complex financial products that have contributed nothing to innovation in the financial sector, but generate financial instability. There is clear evidence that much foreign direct investment, especially in developing countries, comes from tax havens.governance , add a comment
The conference is an integral part of fact-finding on the regulatory framework applicable to financial conglomerates. It will allow for a wide public hearing devoted to the review of financial conglomerates’ legislative framework. It aims to contribute to a fundamental review of the objectives and features of the current Financial Conglomerates Directive (FICOD). Depending on the final outcome of the FICOD review, a proposal for an amendment of the FICOD directive might be tabled in 2013 with a view to further harmonising the definition of conglomerates, the scope of supplementary supervision and the powers available to supervisory authorities.
Speakers will represent, among others, the international supervisory community from G20 and EU countries, expert lawyers in the financial sector and of course the conglomerates themselves.
The system for registration suggests there will be some selectivity:
If you would like to attend the conference, please complete the on-line questionnaire.
You will receive a computer-generated acknowledgement immediately after you have completed the on-line questionnaire and, at a later date, those selected will receive an invitation to participate by email.