Lobbying clampdown

Banking on Brussels

Do think four million is enough, Jürgen? Source: DPA
Do think four million is enough, Jürgen?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Critics say new transparency rules don’t go far enough to curb influence buying.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • New E.U. rules oblige companies to disclose expenses incurred for lobbying activities.
    • Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank spends €4 million per year on E.U. political activities.
    • Transparency rules should be extended to all E.U. institutions, advocates say.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Once a year, Deutsche Bank issues invitations to a classy reception in the European Union’s capital Brussels. The event’s goal is “to facilitate dialogue” with E.U. officials and institutions, according to the bank’s official lobbying record.

Cultivating the political landscape is high on the agenda of most financial institutions. But particularly in Brussels, where much is at stake for large banks. That’s because the E.U. legislative and executive branches are making decisions about projects of central importance for the financial industry’s big players.

A new regulation requires for the first time that financial institutions reveal how much money they actually spend on their E.U. activities. For Deutsche Bank, that comes to almost €4 million ($4.46 million) — more than four times as much as Commerzbank and two-and-a-half times the amount spent by Europe’s largest bank, HSBC. U.S. competitors spent a maximum of €1 million.

“For many years now, Deutsche Bank has adhered to the particularly strict transparency regulations of the Federation of Germany Industries and the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations regarding the representation of political interests,” a bank representative said. Deutsche Bank’s activities in Brussels go beyond pure lobbying and include, for example, professional programs, the spokesperson said.

For Deutsche Bank, decisions made in Brussels can have far-reaching consequences. The German global banking and financial services company is planning an extensive restructuring. The firm’s two chief executives, Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen, want to spin off its retail bank Postbank, close almost a quarter of Deutsche Bank branches and achieve significant savings in investment banking.

One of the most important reasons for the drastic measures is increasingly tough capital requirements.

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