The Absent Consumer – again

IOSCO isn't the only supranational financial standards setter which doesn't get input from consumers. In its first few years of existence, the EU's CESR (Committee of European Securities Regulators) didn't bother much about consumer views either. In March 2005 CESR held a “Consumer Day” to discuss the MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive). In a subsequent summary of the meeting CESR stated:

The importance CESR attaches to receiving comments on its advice from representatives of retail clients and consumers was stressed and CESR expressed its concern that the responses received to previous consultations carried out on MiFID, had not reflected sufficiently this set of stakeholders. CESR made it known that it intended to organise similar meetings in the future to continue and develop this dialogue further

The Consumer representatives who attended the meeting made some useful observations. They pointed out that they did not necessarily have the resources in terms of knowledge and staff to be able to prepare “considered responses” to consultations. They also suggested that it would be helpful if consultation papers were more “reader-friendly” and if they were translated from English into the different national languages in the EU.

This translation point is important and particularly critical in the EU which has been committed since the very early days to communicating with citizens in their own languages. Enlargement puts stresses on the EU's translation resources, and leads the EU to limit the number of documents that are translated into all of the official languages and to produce shorter pre-legislative documents. Publishing consultation papers only in English tends to favour people in the UK, and members of the elite who either read English or can afford to pay for translators.

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One Response to The Absent Consumer – again

  1. tim says:

    Well, crap, if we let consumers in, who knows what would happen. We’ve got a great system of government going on here – by the producers, of the aged producers, and most importantly for the producers. What screw up something that’s working so well?

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