Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/1999-10-26-Speech-2-089"

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". – It is an honour to be chosen as the rapporteur for this important report. This is the first occasion on which the European Parliament has given its views on the progress of the European Central Bank and in this context it is my pleasant duty to congratulate the ECB and Mr Duisenberg, as President, on its success so far. Thirdly, we encourage the ECB to fulfil its role on the international stage as one of the three main pillars of the international monetary system. Finally, I very much welcome, too, Mr Duisenberg’s taking up of a point in the report about the need to reduce the costs of cross-border payments, particularly for smaller payments which affect individual members. Mr President, if the euro is as great a success as I hope and expect, it will play its part in revolutionising the European economy. By completing the single European market it will give Europe’s consumers more choice of goods and services, of higher quality and at lower prices and will, therefore, spur greater increases in living standards. It will provide jobs in expanding industries which is the only sure guarantee of future prosperity. Although I have no doubt that the ECB will face many difficult challenges in the years ahead, I am pleased to report that so far it has risen to the challenges it has faced with considerable . We can look forward to a future which builds on its recent success. The launch of the euro itself is a truly historic moment in the life of an extraordinary undertaking. It represents a substantial technical achievement and the many officials involved deserve our thanks and our appreciation. Clearly it is still early days in terms of judgement on the results of the ECB’s mandate but here, too, we can already point to many positive signs, not least that investors are prepared to lend euro area governments their money at very low rates of interest. This is a real vote of confidence that the ECB will continue to deliver price stability and will not allow an inflationary erosion of people’s savings. It is very much in this context of overwhelming support for the objectives of the ECB and of praise for its achievements so far that my remaining remarks should be seen. Only if the ECB is open about the way it reaches its decisions will it be able to retain support in bad times as well as in good. It may achieve its objective of price stability but without openness it will not be clear whether that objective has been attained by design and can therefore be repeated in future or by lucky accident which may therefore require some improvement in its methods of working. The committee was also struck by the fact that other central banks have moved more rapidly in recent years towards greater openness. The US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, Sweden’s Riksbank, the Bank of England all publish the individual votes of the committee that decides interest rates. They all publish forecasts, they all give information about the nature of the debate within their governing councils. In all of these respects – objective measures of transparency – the ECB lags behind normal international practice. The committee therefore proposes, firstly that the ECB should publish a summary minute giving both sides of the argument, for and against monetary actions. Secondly, the ECB should publish a six-monthly forecast of economic developments in the euro area. Mr Duisenberg’s remarks to us today are particularly welcome in that respect because he has promised that he that will do just that within the next year. Thirdly, the ECB should discuss on a regular basis developments in each of the Member States of the euro area in order to have a positive influence on price and wage developments which must, as Mr Duisenberg rightly pointed out, differ from Member State to Member State. Finally, the committee may request that the President appears following each significant monetary action. These measures would do much to foster a culture of transparency. The committee was unable to support a call now for the publication of votes as is in the Liberal group amendment today. It was felt that a young institution should have time to find its feet. Most members felt that publication might intensify the public pressures on governing council members to vote in line with their national interest. Similarly, the committee did not support the Liberal position that it would be useful to publish the ECB’s econometric models of the euro area, partly for fear that they may be abused. The committee also rejected the Greens’ view as expressed in their amendment today, that the price stability mandate should be altered to take account of the difficulties faced by manufacturers alone if their prices fall. The amendment from the EPP, however, clarifies the paragraph and should, in our view, be supported. Mr President, I would like to highlight briefly some other points that we make. The first is to thank Mr Duisenberg again for his assurance to this House that the process of cooperation between the ECB and the national central banks is now adequate, even in the case of a serious crisis in which a euro area financial institution may need to be supported. I would also like to stress the committee’s view that the ECB should bring pressure to bear on those Member States which rely excessively on short-term debt, as this can present dangers, particularly during a financial crisis."@en1

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