Yesterday (14 September) BEUC and EuroInvestors, lobbyists representing consumers and investors respectively, filed a compliant with the EU Ombudsman against the composition of new stakeholder groups designed to advise the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA).
While investors argue that they are worryingly underrepresented in three stakeholder groups belonging to the two pan-European watchdogs, the supervisors who compiled the groups argue that they were towing a fine line between having experts and satisfying quotas on nationality and gender.
"The interaction of these criteria, in particular the ones related to the geographical and gender balance, was a dynamic factor in the finalisation of the composition of the group," Andrea Enria, the head of the EBA, said in a letter written to EuroInvestors.
But lobbyists for consumers argue that the imbalance will do more harm than good, as it reinforces the already keenly felt influence of the financial lobby on European policymakers.
"They are severely imbalanced. This will aggravate the financial crisis. One of the reasons for the crisis, as recognised by the European Commission, is the failure of financial supervision due to the one-sided influence of the financial industry," Guillaume Prache, the managing director of EuroInvestors, told EurActiv.
Prache said he was particularly worried that the "ticking time bomb" of pensions, which will suffer if there are not more consumers, savers and pension fund participants, would not be adequately represented in the stakeholder groups. As yet there are only two investors around the table compared to 16 bigwigs from the financial industry.
EIOPA has two groups, one for pensions and one for insurance. In the insurance group there are four consumer advocates out of a total of 30 participants. In the EBA's group, just three out of 30 members represent consumers.
Consumer lobby BEUC added that it was misleading and inappropriate that credit rating agencies like Standard & Poor's or auditors like Pricewaterhouse Coopers were chosen to represent users of banking services.