The Transparency of Dutch Banks’ Lobbying Activities

This report by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) looks at the transparency of lobbying by six Dutch banks – the four largest, covering around 80-90% of most Dutch banking markets, and two small ethical banks. SOMO finds that these banks are not as transparent in their lobbying activities as they claim to be. The report reveals that the banks are not making all the required information about their lobbying activities available – in spite of claims that they are reporting fully on these activities, in line with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines. This lack of transparency means that it is not possible to analyse the influence banks’ lobbying efforts are having on public policies. This lack of transparency prevents an open and balanced debate about financial regulation and increases the risk of regulatory capture – the process where policy-makers and supervisors defend the interest of the sector they are meant to regulate and supervise, even at the expense of the public interest. It thus affects the legitimacy of the policy- and decision-making process. In response to SOMO’s findings, all six banks have recognised the importance of transparency in the field of lobbying. Most have pledged to improve their transparency in future. The banks have also committed to implementing around half of the steps recommended by SOMO in the report, which also includes recommendations to the Dutch government and the Global Reporting Initiative.

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