Monday 20 November 2017

Trichet in swan song plea for collective action

European Central Bank President Jean Claude Trichet
European Central Bank President Jean Claude Trichet
Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

EUROPEAN Central Bank President Jean Claude Trichet yesterday used his last appearance before the European Parliament to passionately call on politicians to accept their "collective responsibility" for the destiny of the eurozone and the EU.

The call follows months of protestations from the ECB about expectations it should solve all the eurozone's problems by embarking on fresh schemes like buying the debt of struggling countries.

Addressing the parliament in Brussels, Mr Trichet made a final attempt to impress on politicians the unique role their own institution has to play in shaping the future of the EU and the common currency.

The ECB president wants a new executive branch to oversee Europe's economy to act as a "European finance ministry" that would be responsible for "strong economic and fiscal surveillance and governance . . . and for handling the financial sector".

"Such a strengthening of the EU executive will not be possible without one absolutely necessary condition: democratic legitimacy," Mr Trichet said. "This parliament is the only institution that can ensure this for Europe as a whole."

"Collective responsibility for the destiny" of the EU and the euro and "strong democratic controls by the parliament are two complementary and necessary dimensions," he continued. "The future belongs largely to this Chamber; the future depends very much on this Chamber."

His speech did not directly reference this week's develop-ments in Luxembourg, where Europe's finance ministers accepted that the ECB would not have a lead role in "leveraging" the new EFSF bailout fund.

But Mr Trichet told politicians bluntly: "I am not in favour of bailout funds refinanced by the ECB. There is, I think, some confusion of responsibilities."

The ECB had strenuously resisted efforts to have it take centre stage in the EFSF's evolution by loaning enormous sums of money to the fund.

Despite the storms gathering with the Dexia crisis and the latest Greek setbacks, Mr Trichet stressed all that Europe has achieved in the last 66 years, namely "the unprecedented level of prosperity, peace and stability" provided by the EU and euro.

The outgoing ECB boss, who will give his last interest rates press conference in Berlin tomorrow, also stressed the "constant alertness, resolute action and fierce independence" the bank has shown throughout the crisis.

Irish Independent

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