Ethical and social dimension of European financial institutions

Key points

The EESC is convinced that the grave financial crisis and the welcome defeat of casino capitalism could provide an opportunity to adopt more appropriate measures for safeguarding the financial system in the future while simultaneously relaunching the economy. A broad-based effort is required, commensurate with the danger that the virus detected in the financial sector might spread to the real economy as a whole. Investment in infrastructure, in 'green investment' such as energy efficiency, renewable resources, and innovation and research could help bolster demand. A new European Fund, to be managed by the EIB, and guaranteed by the Member States, could solve the problems created by the freeze on financing for the economy, especially for the part of the economy which most requires medium and long-term investment.

Protecting the biodiversity of suppliers of financial services is an element in Europe's cultural and social heritage that must not be frittered away; on the contrary it should be sustained, given the enormous social value that it represents.

The documented and important role of the savings banks and various cooperative movements in promoting ethical/social initiatives and fostering the development of local systems merits particular attention. Efforts should be made to secure more systematic and widespread recognition of this type of social governance.

Each time that a specific organisation can be shown to have given up, at least in part but on a structural and permanent basis, the principle of maximising profit in order to promote initiatives of an ethical or social nature, it should be entitled to come under tax and regulatory rules that are different from the general ones, except in the case of prudential rules, at least in part.

By ensuring that Member States do not adopt measures that would distort competition, the European Commission can help protect diversity in the supply of financial, banking and insurance services. The rules on State aid should take account of this aspect.