The Lecce Framework

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This was announced by G8 Finance Ministers today:

The Lecce Framework: Common Principles and Standards for Propriety, Integrity and Transparency

We are in the middle of the worst crisis since the Great Depression. The breadth and intensity of the prolonged downturn have revealed the importance of strengthening our commitment to standards of propriety, integrity and transparency. Excessive risk taking and the violation of these basic principles contributed to undermine international economic and financial stability. This occurred both in areas that relied on self regulation and market discipline and in fields with formal rules and oversight, revealing flaws in the functioning of markets.

For the market economy to generate sustained prosperity, fundamental norms of propriety, integrity and transparency in economic interactions must be respected. The magnitude and reach of the crisis has demonstrated the need for urgent action in this regard. Reform efforts must address these flaws in international economic and financial systems with resolve. This will require promoting appropriate levels of transparency, strengthening regulatory and supervisory systems, better protecting investors, and strengthening business ethics.

Today, we, the G8 Finance Ministers, discussed the need for a set of common principles and standards for propriety, integrity and transparency regarding the conduct of international business and finance. We have agreed on the objectives of a strategy, "the Lecce Framework", to create a comprehensive framework, building on existing initiatives, to identify and fill regulatory gaps and foster the broad international consensus needed for rapid implementation.

The Lecce Framework recognizes that there is a wide range of instruments, both existing and under development, which have a common thread related to propriety, integrity and transparency and classifies them into five categories: corporate governance, market integrity, financial regulation and supervision, tax cooperation, and transparency of macroeconomic policy and data. Specific issues covered include, inter alia, executive compensation, regulation of systemically important institutions, credit rating agencies, accounting standards, the cross-border exchange of information, bribery, tax havens, non-cooperative jurisdictions, money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and the quality and dissemination o f economic and financial data. International institutions and fora have already developed a significant body of work addressing a number of important issues in these areas, but, in many cases, the initiatives suffer from insufficient country participation and/or commitment.

Today, we agreed to create a coherent framework which builds on work done by the IMF, World Bank, OECD, FSB, FATF, and other international organizations, to strengthen the global market system. To ensure effectiveness, we will make every effort to pursue maximum country participation and swift and resolute implementation. We are committed to working with our international partners to make progress with the Lecce Framework, with a view to reaching out to broader fora, including the G20 and beyond.

I’m committed to the principles.

Is this the right way forward? I don’t know. I’m not sure the G8 is the place to start anymore. I’d like to see what we have work, or be effectively applied. So I’d like automatic information exchange, which everyone knows massively increases compliance as a starter. And I’d like country-by-country reporting. And I have to be candid: I think they can deliver more than tinkering with the existing structures, as I noted here recently.

So a useful commitment, but to the wrong delivery mechanism, I fear.

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