The Forum organises regular lunches to foster a dialogue between the European Parliament and the financial services industry. It provides a forum for an open and informal discussion of the policy issues affecting financial services between MEPs and the industry sector. In practice, the political problem is first posed by the MEP Chair to a panel of speakers, and then the experts from the financial industry, the European Commission and consumer/end-user groups within this panel react to the questions arising from Members of Parliament (MEPs). The background briefing which is drafted in preparation for the lunches is made available on this website.
The Forum is not an Intergroup. It is a not for profit organisation under Belgian law which is supported by a wide range of MEPs from most political groups through a Steering Committee, which has an advisory role.
The Steering Committee, currently composed of MEPs from the ALDE, EPP, ECR, Green and Socialist Political Groups, gives direction to the activities of the Forum.
The Financial Industry Members undertake the task of arranging and inviting speakers, writing short briefing papers, working out a programme, and managing the secretariat.
Members elect an Administrative Committee (AC) of no more than 12 members each year at the Annual General Meeting. The AC has been given responsibility for regular liaison with the Steering Committee on the role of the Forum, the agenda of meetings and the progress on meetings; for managing the business of the Forum; for appointing outside consultants, if needed; for deciding on applications for membership; and for convening meetings.
The Forum also invites five observers to join its events: BEUC (The European Consumers’ Organisation), EuroFinuse (The European Federation of Financial Services Users), Finance Watch (Association dedicated to making finance serve society), FSUG (Financial Services User Group) and UEAPME (The European Association for Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises).
Organisations wishing to join must send a letter of application to the Chairman of the Financial Industry Members Administrative Committee (AC). If the conditions of membership are fulfilled the organization is invited by the AC to join. The Steering Committee of MEPs is informed of all applications. The Forum’s website contains extensive public information about the activities of the Forum, its objectives and how to join.
Since its foundation, the Forum has been very successful in attracting new members. Today, approximately 50 European financial service providers and associations representing a large segment of the financial services industry are active in the Forum. A detailed list of members is available on the website.
The Forum is a not-for-profit organisation. Members’ contributions cover the organisation of the Forum’s activities, including the costs of events, secretariat expenses, the website, as well as printing brochures and other materials for publication. The annual contributions of industry members are set by the General Assembly. Contributions for 2013 are €8,000 per member.
Following consultations with MEPs and the Steering Committee as well as industry members, a draft programme is prepared by the secretariat. This is finalized after further discussion by the Administrative Committee. The programme evolves flexibly throughout the year as the original work plan is adapted to events, MEP requests and availability of speakers.
The speakers are proposed by members. Industry speakers are sought from the members and other speakers include representatives from consumer organisations, the European Commission, national and European regulators, national ministries or academics. The policy has been generally to have 3-4 speakers during events and to leave enough time for discussion. The practical process of inviting speakers and managing the process is conducted by the Chair of the Administrative Committee with the assistance of the secretariat.
The events are chaired by a Member of the European Parliament. The Chairman of the Administrative Committee regularly informs MEPs about the upcoming programme. MEPs that are interested in a subject or who are active in the Forum generally volunteer to chair a particular lunch. Efforts are made to involve all Members of the Steering Committee as well as to ensure a broad political balance over the year.
Meetings are open to all MEPs, and if they are not able to come, to their assistants, the relevant Parliament committee staff, secretariats of political groups, the relevant officials of the European Commission, as well as representatives from consumer/end-user groups. Every industry member is invited and entitled to one place. The main constraint on attendance at meetings is the number of people that can comfortably be accommodated in the room where the event takes place. Priority is given to invited guests, MEPs and industry members of the Forum (one per member). Financial industry representatives who are not members of the Forum may attend on a pay-per-meeting basis subject to the availability of places and on a first come/first served basis.
In 2008, Catherine Denis was appointed full-time head of the Secretariat as EPFSF Director.
The Forum has a website www.epfsf.org, which contains full information about the EPFSF including details of its objectives and statutes; members, and how to apply for membership; meeting agendas, briefing papers, and finances.