Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-02-11-Speech-3-146"

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"Mr President, our group appreciates both the speed with which the Commission has intervened on this particularly regrettable issue – especially for the Italian economy – and the sense of responsibility with which the Commissioner illustrated his proposals, which are urgent if the figures that we have to examine are genuine. EUR 15 billion represents a financial hole equivalent to 15% of the entire European Union budget. This is also the result of economic deregulation and of financial cynicism which – as Mr Fiori mentioned – many are guilty of. For example, major banks that betrayed the trust of their investors; international advisors, who often knowingly certified false accounts; monitoring bodies, which failed to monitor; and – if I may mention this, Commissioner – those governments that tolerate tax havens are also guilty. Many of these tax havens are controlled by Member States of the European Union. I will quote a few Italian statistics: 25 Italian companies control 400 off-shore companies; of these, 171 are based in Delaware, a small State in the United States of America, and 127 in Luxembourg, the nerve centre of the European Union. So then, what are we doing here in Europe? I would like to propose, on behalf of Mr Imbeni too, an initiative to restrict banking secrecy. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stieglitz mentions how the use of banking secrecy is often one of the factors of economic instability, and the European Union is always appropriately preaching transparency. I do not, however, want us to bow down to any such idols. We could propose that the international community finally bring a moral dimension to globalisation and, therefore, propose a global agreement on banking secrecy, to which we commit ourselves, by seeking to propose a ‘Kyoto for banks’ – if you will allow me to use the metaphor – in the interests of a ‘financial ecology’ and to finally bring some ethics into the global economy. Commissioner Bolkestein, you have realised – and you stated this – that the national control instruments are not sufficient: we urgently need global and supranational rules. We need to govern the financial markets and avoid conflicts of interest and perverse plots between banks and businesses. The European Union must swiftly look again at Community regulations, strengthen sanctions against fraud, intervene against the impunity of tax havens and lay down rules for the absolute independence of auditors. Such an urgent and sensitive issue perhaps warrants greater attention from us – from Parliament and the Community institutions – and not a simple communication. We are not proposing a Committee of Inquiry but perhaps an investigation promoted by the Conference of Presidents – and therefore with the authoritativeness of a Conference of Presidents’ initiative – an investigation that is entrusted, in an informal and voluntary way, to a group of MEPs and that can continue beyond the end of this parliamentary term. Its function would be to investigate and put forward a proposal in order to understand what happened, how it could have happened and what needs to be done so that it does not happen again, to avoid future events similar to that of Parmalat. Finally, Mr President, Commissioner Bolkestein, there are references in the Commission communication to shareholders, to the management, to relations between shareholders and the management, whilst there is little or no talk of the workers, who are the first to pay personally for the repercussions of tragic events such as that of Parmalat. We want a strong voice to come out of this Chamber to protect, guarantee and support the thousands of workers – from Parma to Sicily – direct employees and those in allied industries, who today risk losing their jobs and salary. I believe that an ethical dimension to the economy, which we were referring to a short while ago by recalling how much responsibility also lies with governments and the European Union, now implies continuing to consider protecting and guaranteeing the right to work as a key problem."@en1

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