Pilot Project – Capacity building of end-users and non-industry stakeholders in Union policy making in the area of financial services
Call Nº: MARKT/2012/119/H
1. BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE OF THIS CALL
The financial services sector is a key component of the single market, crucial for the proper functioning of the European economy and for global competitiveness. A healthy and dynamic financial sector requires a solid framework for regulation and supervision, which is capable of meeting the demands of increasingly integrated financial markets in the Union. In view of the ongoing financial and economic crisis, it is more important than ever that the concerns of end-users and other non-industry stakeholders are taken into account in designing initiatives that aim to restore citizens’ confidence in the soundness of the financial sector and in the ability of financial integration to deliver concrete benefits to them. In so doing, national public authorities, regulators or supervisors, as well as Union institutions would avoid the possible risk of regulatory capture by the finance industry. Furthermore, such plurality of views would help ensuring that the finance industry plays its full role of intermediation and allocation of capital at the service of the real economy and of society at large. Actions have already been undertaken by the European Commission to ensure that the views of end-users and citizens are heard, notably with (i) the establishment in early 2011 of the Financial Services Users Group (FSUG) which acts as a forum where non-industry stakeholders’ representatives are regularly kept informed about the financial services policy issues under development and are invited to give their views and express their concerns and suggestions on the way forward and (ii) the systematic inclusion of consumers and civil society organisations’ representatives in the various expert groups set up to assist the Commission in the financial services area. Where end-users and non-industry stakeholders were under-represented particularly in expert groups dealing with very technical issues (e.g. market infrastructure, derivatives) or wholesale financial issues, a rebalancing has taken place. Besides direct participation in stakeholders groups, civil society organisations can also avail themselves of the various consultation mechanisms used by the Commission in the context of the "better regulation" approach, by contributing formal submissions for instance on green papers or draft Commission initiatives, or by providing views in meetings with stakeholders or conferences. At this stage, despite the progress achieved by the Commission in ensuring that the views of end-users and citizens are heard, a major obstacle remains that hinders end-users and nonindustry stakeholders’ participation in the Union policy making particularly in the area of financial services, namely the scarcity of resources and specialised expertise. Consumer bodies as well as civil society organisations do not have adequate resources to properly cover a wide range of often highly technical topics and develop the expertise to take a more proactive role in the Union financial services policy making. This is unsatisfactory because the Commission cannot benefit from the widest possible range of input for its policymaking, and its public perception is hence negatively affected.
The aim of the pilot project is, through the support provided by an expertise centre to the benefit of European end-users and non-industry associations, to enhance their capacity to participate in the Union policymaking in the area of financial services. This should also contribute to providing policymakers with other views than those expressed by the financial sector industry and to better information of the wider public about the issues at stake in the regulation of financial markets for consumers, end-users, retail investors and other non-industry stakeholders.
1.2. The present call for proposals
This call for proposals aims at providing a financial contribution (operating grant) for the year 2013 for the functioning of a European financial expertise to the direct benefit of European end-users and non-industry stakeholders in the financial services area. Applicants must fulfil the requirements specified in this call. They are required to fill in the application form and provide the requested documentation, including the annual work programme – and corresponding budget – for the year 2013. These two documents will form the basis for awarding the specific operating grant for 2013. This call for proposals is open to all legal entities established in the Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area.