What does BlackRock have to do with the EU?

By Clara McDonnell November 9, 2020

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset management fund, with over $7 trillion in assets under management. In April 2020, the European Commission hired BlackRock as an advisor on sustainable finance- that is, how to build a banking sector that supports the transition to a green economy and mitigates climate change. 

Why is this a problem? 

Although BlackRock’s technical expertise might be valuable, as Corporate Europe Observatory and Change Finance discuss in more detail, BlackRock will not be a neutral advisor on this topic. Not only is BlackRock a major investor in fossil fuel companies themselves, they also have billions invested banks (e.g. Deutsche Bank) who invest heavily in fossil fuels. Given their financial stake, should we trust that BlackRock will be completely neutral in their advice to the EU? According to documents seen by Corporate Europe Observatory, the European Commission did not investigate these conflicts of interest in depth, essentially trusting that BlackRock will provide only technical advice. 

What does this have to do with my pension? 

BlackRock has been hired to provide advice on environmental and social rules for banks. However, decisions made about what constitutes sustainable finance may have implications for other financial sectors. Stricter regulations on what banks can sustainably invest in and fund will make it easier to implement similar measures for pension funds. Similarly, if banks are able to get away with continuing to fund fossil fuels, it will be more difficult to lobby for restrictions on pension fund investments. 

What can you do? 

You can sign the petition here to ask the EU to drop their deal with BlackRock. This page from Change Finance also has information on how to contact your Members of European Parliament (MEPs) as well as additional information and resources.