The Christian Green on a mission to redefine finance

Financial News  
01 July 2013

 

Jeremy Woolfe in Brussels
01 Jul 2013

Sven Giegold, who is the European Parliamentary Green Party’s leading light on financial matters, is aware he may not be the most popular man among fund managers – as one editorial in a UK financial paper put it recently, he is not at the top of anyone’s Christmas card list. But he said: “I expect lots [of cards] from the investors. As a Christian, I do not believe so much in Christmas cards. If the ones who won’t write Christmas cards [to me] would think more about morality, I would prefer that.” And he goes on to say that, as a Green, he is a supporter of the finance industry in general: “Why? Because we want to completely reorganise the way we produce and consume, to make our mode of consumption and production suit the needs of the planet. We have to change all basic systems of production… the way we build houses, the way we do transport, the way we produce energy, and so on. And all this will have to be done in a sustainable way. “And this will need a huge investment programme, for which, clearly, we have to have a vibrant financial sector, geared towards serving the real economy, by applying vast amounts of long-term investment.” Nevertheless, he has a history of asking tough questions of the industry. In June 2011, he was a co-founder of Finance Watch, a Brusselsbased institution set up to present public interest arguments “as a counterweight to the private interest lobbying of the financial
industry”.  One of his biggest general concerns is the fight against tax evasion, together with “shameless obstruction” on banking transparency. Turning back to fund managers, he also intends to push for penalties on those that charge high fees but deliver mediocre or poor performance. He disputes the notion that Green politicians do not understand finance or economics. Giegold says the party is moderate and realistic, and has experience in all areas of policy. But Giegold’s own history involves experience with less consensual groups. He joined the Green party in 2008 one year before standing for the 2009 European Parliamentary elections. Before that, his activism had focused mainly on the Attac movement, which he cofounded in Europe in 2002. Attac, the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens, which claims activity in 40 countries, “believes in radical redefinition of economic development away from productivism and consumerism”. Its mission is to redefine how capitalism works; something that still chimes with Giegold’s interests today. Its origins go back to a publication in monthly magazine Le Monde Sven Giegold, German Green Party MEP Photo credit: Corbis
diplomatique of an article entitled “Dismantle the Markets”. The organisation describes itself as working towards social, environmental and democratic alternatives in the globalisation process.
It fights for “the regulation of financial markets, the closure of tax havens, and the introduction of global taxes to finance global public advances”.