European flagsPhoto: EU - Pietro Naj-Oleari

The financial sector plays an important role in the functioning of economies and societies worldwide. SOMO investigates the ways in which banks, insurers and other financial conglomerates influence the lives of people and poverty and sustainable development, with special focus on  developing countries.

We study not only private financial enterprises, but also the ways in which the financial sector is being regulated and  liberalised internationally, nationally and at EU level. With these studies, we show how regulation, policy and private initiatives in this sector do or do not lead to sustainable development.

SOMO also publishes a bimonthly newsletter in cooperation with German NGO WEED to update civil society, academia and politicians on various policy processes around financial reforms in the EU and internationally.

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the bigger picture

Economic Justice

Today’s economic system is a system driven by shareholder value and the interests of large corporations: it maximises their profits, often ignoring the social and environmental costs. The current globalised world does not offer a sustainable level playing field, and as a result, corporations are caught in a race to the bottom.

SOMO wants to contribute to a fair economic system, in which corporations and investors contribute to financing public goods and services, and governments and institutions implement adequate checks and balances, serving social and ecological interests.

Private gain, public loss

SOMO’s research reveals how the current economic and financial system perpetuates economic inequality, and how it exacerbates the power imbalance between the private sector and civil society. Through corporate tax avoidance. Through trade and investment agreements that give companies the right to sue governments for enacting sound social policy. Through a volatile financial system that is increasingly disconnected from the real economy. It is a system of private gain and public loss that leaves ordinary people paying the price.

Our focus is on the social and economic impact of tax treaties and regimes, trade and investment mechanisms and agreements, and the practices and lobby of the financial sector. We pay particular attention to the impact of Dutch and EU policies on low-income countries, examining the degree to which they cohere with sustainable development policies and human rights frameworks.

Economic changes

We work with others in the Netherlands, in Europe, and across the globe, to adapt the economic system, so it serves the public interest and facilitates a more equitable distribution of resources. We want people to be able to control their own economic circumstances, through democratic processes with adequate checks and balances.

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Updates on this topic

‘Light touch’ reform proposals for EU banks

This article is based on an analysis by Finance Watch, which can be found here. At international and EU level, new bank reforms are being introduced to avoid practices that contributed to the 2008 financial…

The financial risks facing the year 2017

The year 2016 has been full of surprises and volatility on all fronts: 2017 is facing similar challenges. The latest issue of the SOMO-WEED Financial Reform Newsletter provides an overview of the multifaceted, intertwined problems: The…

The EU financial legislative programme: what’s next?

Although there have been many complaints by the financial sector that there has been too many new EU legislations and regulations, there are still quite some initiatives and ongoing legislative proposals at EU level, some…

In the starting blocks for a Super-Singapore?

Brexit and the finance sector By: Peter Wahl The Brexit has been a historic break for the EU. It will also have major consequences for the financial sector, both in Britain and in the EU….

Big words, little action

The EU has finally reached agreement on the Anti Tax Avoidance Directive. Several NGOs have criticized the Directive, arguing it will not do much to combat tax avoidance in practice. They say little remains of…

Towards a volcanic eruption?

New EU rules against bail-outs in times of crisis By: Peter Wahl The new rules to govern and manage the European financial system that emerged after the financial crisis have already shown that they are…

Update on CMU: heated debates on spreading the risks of loans

The flagship legislation to implement the Capital Markets Union (CMU) action plan (see previous newsletter) has been hotly debated in the European Parliament (EP). The legislative proposals for a simple transparent and standardised (STS) securitisation…

Reminder: do not mix private money and public goals

Governments increasingly try to use public funds or guarantees to attract private portfolio finance  to realise public goals like infrastructure projects, or to deal with social or environmental problems. The latest SOMO report ‘Harnessing private…

If Quantitative Easing is the Only Game in Town

The ECB has considerably expanded its Quantitative Easing programme, in order to trigger growth and prevent deflation in the Eurozone. It is doubtful whether the programme will reach its goals, but Draghi is buying time…

A new topic at the G20: ‘Green finance’

After China, which holds the Presidency of the G20, has introduced a ‘Green Finance Study Group’ (GFSG), the issues on the agenda have already been reduced. The GFSG has focused on environmental issues, so that…

Debate: Paradise Lost? The Netherlands as Tax Haven

Publication / November 1, 2006 The Netherlands: A tax haven? Why does the Dutch Tax Revenue Service want our money so badly, but not Starbucks’s? On 26 January we are going to debate this very…