National Attitudes on the ECB and Central Bank Independence
Despite the focus of our previous chapter upon the role of European central bankers, the history of monetary cooperation and integration was dominated by the actions and interests of France and Germany, the axis of European integration. We argue that it is necessary to explore the interests and preferences of these two countries and their monetary policy-making traditions in order to understand both the design of the EMU project and the ECB in particular, as well as the current politics of the Euro-Zone in which the ECB must engage. Not to downplay the importance of other Euro-Zone members (the Dutch or Belgians, for example), the institutional structure, roles and powers of the ECB reflect the explicit preferences of these two leading EU member states, notably Germany. The on-going debate about structure, roles and powers is, furthermore, energized principally by French politicians and policy-makers. The emphasis placed upon central bank independence owes principally to the German monetary policy-making tradition. Most other Euro-Zone member states — notably the French — have traditions which rejected independence. This leaves an ideational legacy that views the operation of EMU, and in particular the inadequate political counterweight to the ECB ‘Leviathan’, with much concern on both political and economic grounds.
KeywordsMonetary Policy Central Bank European Central Bank Central Bank Independence National Attitude
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