Press Release

COMECE publishes a reflection paper on financial ethics. “Serving the common good in times of systemic change”

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) publishes on Thursday 18 November 2021 a reflection paper on ethics in the financial sector, calling for a reform to reduce social tensions and promote a change of behaviours at the individual and enterprise levels. Fr. Barrios Prieto: “Our call is put care at the centre, contributing to the dynamic of building together the common good of humanity”.

Euro currency symbol in Frankfurt. (Photo: telesniuk/Shutterstock)

The aim of the COMECE document is to stimulate a debate at the European level on promoting a change within the financial sector to reduce the negative effects of the social tensions and of the climate crisis, which are increasing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our call addresses the EU institutions, its Member States, as well as industrial and service corporations, universities and citizens – states Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, General Secretary of COMECE. In the Christian perspective, the common good is the measure for evaluating our financial endeavors. We call to put care at the centre of our finances” – he explains.

Through the principles of Christian Social Teaching, the reflection paper confronts a selection of policy and personal dilemmas in the field of economy and finance to help the concerned actors make better informed choices and decisions aiming at the common good. The document analyses different challenges posed by the macro, meso and micro dilemmas of finances:

  • Post-pandemic burdens are heavier for middle and low-income countries and manifold instruments must be used to increase foreign investments. The unique combination of short-term urgencies and long-term challenges requires a dialogue with prudence, justice and adequate listening of all stakeholders. The paper also contributes to the ethical discussion of credit, dept and interest and to the prevention of over-indebtedness.
  • Banking and financial markets should pay greater attention to the weakest among their stakeholders by the notion of “care” which is a call to go beyond an efficient market transaction based on equivalence, to care for the partner, the client, the supplier, the environment, the local community – behaviors must change at individual and at enterprise levels.
  • The important question of how to use savings is raised and is accompanied by a call for a deeper and more evenly distributed financial literacy. Likewise, the validity of ESG (Environment, Social and Corporate Governance) objectives is affirmed, but some major hurdles need to be clarified.
    The document, entitled “A Financial System serving the Common Good in times of Systemic Change”, was drafted by the COMECE ad-hoc Working Group on Financial Ethics, chaired by Prof. Paul Dembinski – director of Observatoire de la Finance in Geneva.

A public event will be held by COMECE in early 2022, together with EU and Church representatives, to discuss the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations at the European level. More information will be shared in the next weeks.