The Fight for Glass-Steagall in Europe

It has been clear to both advocates and opponents of Glass-Steagall, that, once the United States returned to this principle, Western Europe would be soon to follow. Indeed, the political drumbeat for what could be called a “Global Glass-Steagall” has been building up dramatically over the last two to three years, fed by the organizing of the international LaRouche political movement.

Below we summarize the major public expressions of this support, starting with those nations where legislation has actually been introduced into the Federal parliament, followed by those where there has been institutional public advocacy for adoption of the Glass-Steagall banking separation.

– I. Glass-Steagall Legislation –

– Italy –

There are currently four draft bills in the national Parliament. All call for strict separation between commercial banks and investment banks and name the Glass-Steagall Act as their model.

Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati):

March 22: A draft bill for “Delegation to the Government for the Separation of Banking Models” (C. 488) was introduced by Hon. Davide Caparini (Lega Nord) and signed by four other Deputies.

April 16: Draft Bill C. 762 was filed by Hon. Marco Di Lello (Democratic Party), and four other members of the Democratic Party caucus.

Senate:

May 28: Former Economy Minister, Sen. Giulio Tremonti re-introduced the text of a draft bill for banking separation he had filed in the previous legislature (S. 717). The draft bill has been signed by seven Senators from the following groups: GAL, PDL, PD, LN-Aut.

July 1: Sen. Giuseppe Vacciano (M5S) introduced a bill signed by 48 Senators from the M5S faction.

Regions: A motion calling on the central government to implement a Glass-Steagall type of banking separation has been filed in four regional parliaments (councils)–Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, and Tuscany, three of which have already approved it.

Tuscany: On May 16, 2013, a motion, introduced by Gabriele Chiurli, for “Banking Separation and Reform of Regulations Following the Model of the Glass-Steagall Act” was approved.

Piedmont: On June 6, 2013, a similar motion was introduced by a bipartisan group led by Councilman Marco Botta and unanimously approved by the Council.

Lombardy: On Nov. 12, 2013, a “Motion Concerning a Return to the Glass-Steagall Act,” introduced by Antonio Saggese of the Maroni Presidente group, was unanimously approved by the Council.

Veneto: On Nov. 14, 2013, a similar motion was introduced in the Veneto Regional Council by Federico Caner, leader of the Lega Nord faction.

City Councils: Motions in favor of Glass-Steagall have been introduced in: Prato (approved May 16, 2012); Olgiate Olona (Varese, May 28); Galliate, Trescore Cremasco (approved Sept. 26); Montevarchi (Arezzo), Montichiari (Brescia).

– Iceland –

Parliament motions:

* Oct. 24, 2012, Motion 239 for the separation of commercial banks and investment banks was reintroduced, sponsored by 17 of its 63 members, representing all parties but one.

* Motion 143 with the same text as the committe had proposed to the parliament was reintroduced Oct. 3, 2013 in the new parliament by the five legislators, Arni Thor Sigurdsson, Bjarkey Gunnarsdottir, Ögmundur Jonasson, Helgi Hjörvar and Sigridur Ingbjörg Ingadottir. The first three are from the Left-Green Party parliamentary group, two of them are former chairs of the group. The latter two are from the Social Democratic Alliance.

– Belgium –

* Draft Legislation for banking separation was introduced in both the House and Senate on Sept. 10, 2010, and re-introduced in October 2011, by Green Party MPs and Senators Meyrem Almaci, Georges Gilkinet, Muriel Gerkens and Stefaan Van Hecke. The draft is pending in the Finance Commission.

* Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo, leader of the Socialist Party, Vice Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx, and the chairman of the Walloon Socialist Party Paul Magnette, have all endorsed Glass-Steagall-style banking separation.

* Economists: Eric De Keuleneer of the ULB Solvay Institute and Paul De Grauwe of the London School of Economics, renowned Belgian economists, have explicitly called repeatedly on the government to split up the banks.

Letters to the U.S. Congress: On Aug. 5, 2013, Socialist MP Dirk Van der Maelen wrote a personal letter to members of the US Congress calling them to adopt Glass-Steagall. MP Bruno Tobback, a former minister and currently the chairman of the Flemish Socialist Party wrote such a letter, concluding “What are we waiting for?”

* National Petition Drive: In November, a national petition drive to gather 100,000 signatures was launched by the group Roosevelt.be. Already 13,000 signatures have been gathered.

* NGOs: Finance Watch, a Brussels-based NGO created to counter the banking lobby, has consistently argued in favor of a return to strict banking separation including to fight speculation on food stuffs.

– Sweden –

Parliamentary motions:

* On Sept. 25, 2013, Swedish Green Party (mp), for the third year in a row submitted a motion in the parliament for bank separation with the head line: “Separate trading activity from regular banking activity.” The two original mp-parliamentarians, Valter Mutt and Annika Lillemets, are joined by three others, Jonas Eriksson, Jan Lindholm, and Anders Pertoft. This ensures that the bank separation will be on the Parliament agenda the parliament year 2013/2014 too. Like the two earlier motions it refers to the U.S. 1933 Glass-Steagall Act.

* On Sept. 18, 2012, the Left Party submitted their first motion on bank separation, under the name “Financial Regulation,” by six parliamentarians, Ulla Andersson, Josefin Brink, Rossana Dinamarca, Christina Hoj Larsen, Wiwi-Anne Johansson, and Jacob Johnson.

– Switzerland –

National Parliament: On Sept. 9, 2013, the Swiss lower chamber (National Council) voted three motions for a banking separation reform filed by the Socialdemocratic Party (SP), the Popular Party (SVP), and the Green Party. Following the vote, the SP and the SVP, which hold a majority in the National Council, drafted two new identical motions, in which they called on the government to draft a text for a banking reform.

– II. Advocacy for Banking Separation/Glass-Steagall –

– Denmark –

MP Frank Aaen of the Unity Party, and chairman of the parliament’s Political/Economic Committee, introduced a motion for bank separation several years ago. More recently, he said: “Up to the ’90s, we had no major international financial crises, because you had Glass-Steagall legislation in all countries…. And therefore we must return to that again.”

– Finland, Norway, Greenland and Faroe Islands –

* On Oct. 28, 2011, Left Party chairman and current Finnish Minister of Culture and Sport, Paavo Arhinmaki, supported the reintroduction of Glass-Steagall in an article. Arhinmaki was also among the six Nordic Left Party leaders signing a common statement for bank regulation, including bank separation, published Jan. 12, 2012. The others were Kristin Halvorsen, Socialist Left Party of Norway, Steingrimur Sigfusson, Left-Green Party of Iceland, Hogni Hoydal, Tjodveldi Party of the Faroe Islands and Kuupik Kleist, Inuit Ataqatigiit Party of Greenland. This means that the bank separation issue has been supported on the government level in Finland through Arhinmaki, but also in Norway as Halvorsen at the time was Minster of knowledge, on Iceland as Sigfusson was Minster of Finance and on Greenland as Kleist at the time was Prime Minister of the their government under the Danish crown.

– France –

Petition for a Global Glass-Steagall: Some 3,000 people, including 260 mayors of small cities, and 17 economists, have signed a call, circulated by the French party Solidarity & Progress (S&P), for a “Global Glass-Steagall.”

Some of the signers:

Economics Professor François Morin (Toulouse I, former Banque de France official); Pierre-Henri Leroy (Proxinvest); Jean de Maillard (vice-president, TGI tribunal Paris); Prof. Gabriel Colletis (Toulouse I); Olivier Marquet (CEO Triodos bank, Belgium); Jacques Cheminade (HEC, ENA, former Presidential candidate in 1995 and 2012, chairman Solidarity & Progress); Jean-Pierre Aubin (Paris-Dauphine); Denis Dubois (Director, Economics Department, Finance Assurance Banque au CNAM); Isabelle Attard (MP of Calvados; Philippe Bonnin (Mayor of Chartres-de-Bretagne, vice-president CG35); Philippe Lamberts (European MP Belgian Green Party); Joseph Battistini (parliamentary assistant to Sen. François Vendasi); François Vermande (General Councillor 15); Daniel Verdelhan (Mayor of Salindres); Philippe Chesneau (Regional Councillor PACA), Marc Frot (General Councillor Côte d’Or), etc.

The European Union: organized a public consultation on banking reform. 85% of all answers were in favor of full seperation of commericial from investment banks. The EU posted the full text of S&Ps draft legislation on its website.

Cities, Towns, and Municipalities:

So far, about 75 municipalities, including councils in major cities such as Rennes and Toulouse, have discussed resolutions introduced by councilmen of various parties. So far, 25 cities have voted “a wish,” i.e., a resolution calling on the government to enact a real Glass-Steagall.

General and Regional Councils:

* The General Council of the Ille-et-Vilaine department, pop. 1 million, passed a Glass-Steagall resolution Nov. 13.

* The Loire-Atlantique regional assembly, representing 3.5 million people, on Oct. 18, 2013, passed a resolution demanding a real banking separation.

* Letters to the U.S. Congress: On Sept. 4, 2012, Green Party MP Eric Alauzet, and on Oct. 2, 2012, Sen. Pierre-Yves Collombat (Left), wrote private letters to members of the U.S. Congress calling on them to reinstate Glass-Steagall without delay.

Franco-German Initiative: On Aug. 10, 2013, 12 mayors and municipal councillors from French and German municipalities met with Jacques Cheminade and Helga Zepp-LaRouche in Arzvillers, France, and made a common statement calling for the break-up of the large banks of Europe. So far, some 45 elected officials of France and Germany have signed the “Arzviller Declaration.”

The initial list of signers: Michel Carabin (Maire de Arzviller, 57); Jacques Cheminade (founder S&P); Gilbert Fixaris (Maire de Saint-Louis, 57); André Granget (Maire de Bleurville, 88); Sylvain Gross (1er Adjoint de Arzviller, 57); Katja Heintges (Conseillère municipale de Viersen, Rhénanie-du-Nord-Westphalie); Guy Longeau (Conseiller municipal de Chamouilley, 52), Jean-Marie Mangin (Maire de Varmonzey, 88), Georges Meyer (Maire délégué de Eberbach, 67); Catherine Perez (Conseillère municipale de Chamouilley, 52); Eugène Perez (Maire de Chamouilley, 52); Dorothea Schleifenbaum (Conseillère municipale de Siegen, Rhénanie-du-Nord-Westphalie); Bernard Trichot (3e Adjoint de Roche-sur-Marne, 52); Helga Zepp-LaRouche (chairman, Büso, Germany).

– Germany –

City Councilwoman Dorothea Schleifenbaum from the German industrial city of Siegen, travelled to Washington at the end of November, meeting with Congressional offices and other institutions, calling on U.S. policymakers to re-institute Glass-Steagall now–before the next big financial crash.

– Great Britain –

* Institutional support for Glass-Steagall banking separation appeared in top British financial circles on July 4, 2012, when the London Financial Times ran an editorial advocating “formal Glass-Steagall-style” restructuring of the banks, rather than the so-called “electrical ring-fencing” being proposed by the government.

On Nov. 26-27 of 2013, the Financial Services bill instituting that ring-fencing was finally passed in the House of Lords, but only after an attempt was made to add an amendment which would mandate “full Glass-Steagall separation,” should the ring-fencing failed by a small margin. The amendment was supported by a host of top British politicians, including Lord Nigel Lawson and Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Committee.

On Dec. 11, 2013, after the final promulgation of the Volcker rule in the U.S., the Financial Times again editorialized for Glass-Steagall instead.

– Greece –

* In December, the leaders of the two main opposition parties, the Independent Greeks and Syriza, called for Glass-Steagall to be implemented in Greece and throughout Europe.

* The newly formed Drachma 5 party, which calls for a return of the Greece’s old currency, the drachma, also has called in its party program for bank separation along the lines of Glass-Steagall.

* Two other new parties, the Plan B party and the United People’s Front have also expressed support Glass-Steagall.

Independent Greeks: The chairman of the Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos visited Washington Dec. 3, where he met with members of Congress and their staffs, urging them to reinstate Glass Steagall.

On Dec. 7, on the floor of the Greek Parliament, Kammenos called for Glass-Steagall and a New Deal based on the ideas of Franklin Roosevelt, and New Marshall Plan for the economic reconstruction of Europe.

Syriza Party: Chairman Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Opposition, on Dec. 15, called for a Glass-Steagal law for Europe during the conference of the European Left Party, in Madrid, Spain.

– Ireland –

The President Michael D. Higgins (Labor Party), has been an outspoken advocate of Glass-Steagall. In a speech to the National University of Ireland, Galway, on May 24, he identified the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act in the U.S. as having undermined “traditional prudential banking in favor of a more speculative and less risk-averse model. The global consequences of this innovation were certainly not benign,” he said.

– San Marino –

A draft bill for Glass-Steagall was introduced Oct. 29, 2013, by the United Left (Sinistra Unita) party. The draft was presented to the media by SU leader and State Secretary for Education Francesca Michelotti.

– Spain –

The Asociacion Democracia Real Ya resistance movement calls for “effective separation of commercial and investment banking, and regulation of the business model, following a system similar to the U.S. Glass-Steagall Act of 1933,” in its official program.

Edilberto Ruiz Frontela, Mayor of Villanueva de Duero, Castile and León, signed the “Arzviller Declaration” calling for Glass-Steagall issued following the meeting of French and German city officials with Helga Zepp-LaRouche and Jacques Cheminade.

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