BRUSSELS/LONDON - The European Commission failed to properly consider conflicts of interest when it appointed a division of BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, to help develop green banking rules, the European Union watchdog said on Wednesday. European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly launched an inquiry after the EU executive in March appointed BlackRock, through the company's Financial Markets Advisory unit (FMA), to produce a study that would inform EU plans to integrate sustainability into banking prudential rules. EU lawmakers and NGO Change Finance questioned BlackRock's ability to provide impartial advice as its $7.8 trillion in assets under management includes large stakes in fossil fuel industries and in banks affected by the regulations. In a decision on Wednesday, O'Reilly stopped short of calling for the Commission to cancel the contract, but said it should have exercised "significantly more critical scrutiny" of BlackRock's application. "Questions should have been asked about motivation, pricing strategy and whether internal measures taken by the company to prevent conflicts of interest were really adequate," she said. CANCELLATION CALL Change Finance on Wednesday called for the contract to be cancelled, and published a report with NGO Corporate Europe Observatory, which said BlackRock and industry groups it is a member of have lobbied to weaken planned EU green finance rules. A BlackRock spokesman said the Commission had already publicly stated that the technical quality of FMA,
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