New faces at French bank: Bank of France completes its shift to independence

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The Independent Online
THE FRENCH government named six members of the Bank of France's new monetary policy council yesterday, completing the central bank's move to independence.

The six will sit alongside Jean- Claude Trichet, the governor, and the two deputy governors. They include a prominent journalist and Michel Sapin, the last Socialist finance minister. Eventually, council members will all have nine-year mandates, but the six named yesterday will draw lots for two to serve for only three years, another two for six and the rest for nine years to ensure a normal rotation.

The bank's independence, from 1 January, was voted through parliament last spring in line with the monetary provisions of the Maastricht treaty. Although central banks do not have to become independent until 1999 under Maastricht, the conservative French government elected last March wanted to change the bank's statutes to give it time to settle down well ahead of monetary union. The bank's new structures are modelled on the Bundesbank.

Mr Sapin, 41, who lost his parliamentary seat in March, was in charge of monetary policy when the franc came under frequent speculative pressure after the close French vote to approve Maastricht in September 1992. He said yesterday he was leaving his Socialist Party and local council functions to concentrate on his new appointment.

Probably the member best known to the public is Jean Boissonnat, 65, editor of the economic magazine L'Expansion. Mr Boissonnat has until now provided a daily commentary on the Europe 1 radio breakfast show. Yesterday, a few hours before his appointment was announced, he said the world could only have monetary stability once Europe had a 'solid currency'.

The other four members named yesterday were: Michel Albert, 63, the head of the state-owned Assurances Generales de France; Denise Flouzat, 65, a university economics professor; Jean-Pierre Gerard, 53, the chairman of the national standards testing laboratory; and Bruno de Maulde, 59, the chairman of the Conseil des Bourses de Valeurs which oversees financial markets.

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