As the global financial crisis and its consequences look set to dominate the economic, social and political landscapes once more in 2013, the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions, drawing on the experience of 31 European countries, wishes to make the case for radical change. Our vision is of a society in which all economic activity serves the demands of justice and the common good. We believe that particular responsibility falls to those in Government to introduce the legislation and structures necessary to support such a vision.

We cannot afford to forget that the financial sector exists to serve the real economy, which needs to be at the service of society, which in turn exists to protect and promote the dignity and wellbeing of the human person. The inversion of this value system sees the future of financial institutions secured at the expense of the needs and wellbeing of individuals, families and even the generations to come. As new financial scandals continue to be exposed, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we have allowed the financial sector to operate as though it were above, or unconstrained by, the boundaries that govern other aspects of social life. Yet, when it failed, society paid a heavy price and that burden has been distributed most unjustly.

A positive consequence to emerge from the crisis has been the increased public demand for transparency and independent regulation of financial activity. The costs of secrecy and dishonesty in areas such as taxation and reporting of profits in developing countries have been highlighted by campaigners for many years. Now there is a heightened awareness that European countries are also paying a price for the failure to address these practices. While recognising the positive contribution made to society by business and financial activity, Government needs to ensure that this contribution is fair and just. At a global level, governments need to oblige companies to publish their accounts on a country- by-country basis. The problem of tax havens needs to be addressed in a meaningful way if we are to achieve a more just and sustainable economic model for the future.

Consequently, the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions calls on our Governments to:

• Jointly agree and adopt a common Code of Ethical Conduct for financial institutions which emphasises transparency, accountability, human rights, tax contribution and just distribution of profits;

• Review regulatory conduct with a view to establishing an international regulatory body, independent of financial institutions and with a strong emphasis on ethical considerations;

• Identify where additional regulation is required – at national and international level – in order to ensure that economy activity complies with the demands of justice;

• Introduce legislation to oblige full and transparent disclosure by companies of all aspects of economic activity, thereby eliminating tax evasion and addressing the problem of tax havens;

• Fulfill our global obligations in the area of economic justice by maintaining our commitment to allocate 0.7% of GDP to Overseas Development Aid;

• Introduce a tax on financial speculation to fund international development and social justice initiatives, as proposed by the European Commission in 2011, and approved for 11 EU countries in January this year, where the exchange of shares and bonds would be taxed at 0.1% and derivative contracts at 0.01%

For a more exhaustive text and more information please contact Mr Roderick Agius on [email protected]