The essential nature of some of the core functions of banks combined with the enormous potential costs of banking crises on the economy and their consequences for society call for some form of representation of the public interest in banking, in the way that banks operate and in the way they are regulated and controlled.
The gap between the expectations of citizens and businesses on the one hand and banking services on the other hand shows that reforms have failed to fix the banking system, hence the need for new routes to be considered.
While bank bail-outs continue, the debate over bank regulation remains in the hands of "experts", and a large majority of citizens do not feel able, or even interested, in taking part in this crucial debate. Partly as a result, regulatory changes have remained complex and have failed to deliver the necessary changes: They rather comfort the status quo.
1) Elaborating a model for public interest representation in banking (Where do we want to go?), which aims to produce a theoretical model of public interest representation that can cope with current and future requirements and be used as a basis for a positive vision of banking.
2) Learning from the past (Which trajectory have we been following so far?), which aims to understand the processes underlying the development of Europe's banking systems, the role and influence of the different bodies and interest groups, and the shortcomings in their public interest provision.
3) Looking to the future (What should be the target and how do we change direction?), which aims to build on the understanding of the past and on the positive model to make policy recommendations. The research would aim to generate and collect recommendations via an inclusive process with civil society representatives, aimed at increasing the democratic accountability of the policymaking process.
The theoretical part of the research project will be based mostly on workshops with civil society representatives and interviews with academics and other experts, with the aim of defining public interest in banking and articulating a positive vision for the banking sector.
The empirical part of the research project will include a historical and literature review, data collection and case studies, for example drawing on the Finance Watch team's hands-on experience in specific regulation, with a view to understanding the forces that have pushed banking away from its public interest role.
The third part of the research project will aim to synthesize the results of the first two stages with an analysis of existing research on alternative banking models and input from civil society representatives. This input will include interviews and workshops with civil society representatives, academics and other experts.
4. Darstellung der Ergebnisse
Within almost two years, the project has managed to bring together a range of stakeholders and raise a number of questions for civil society, public institutions, policy makers and banks themselves about the participation of the public in a highly-relevant issue for the population at large. However, that longer term work will necessarily involve many stakeholders and a diverse range of actions.
We believe that the overview provided in this report will prove a starting point for this work, and hope that the proposals outlined in the last chapter will trigger new initiatives and serve as inspiration for civil society organisations, public institutions, law makers and bankers in the future. This will not happen, though, without a significant increase in civil society’s capacity to engage on banking and finance, to self-organise, build expertise and make banking and finance a transversal issue and challenge.