Outlook: Silence in Euroland
Wednesday 10 June 1998
After the first council meeting yesterday, the golf-playing, country and western-loving Mr Duisenberg said the question of publishing minutes had not been discussed, but the council had nevertheless decided not to do so. He added immediately: "We are accountable to the public at large and to the European Parliament. They will be on our heels to judge what we are doing."
Too right, Wim. If ECB interest rate decisions leave some countries languishing with high unemployment and slow growth, the public will know very well where to place the blame. A shell of secrecy will be no protection against popular discontent. Quite the reverse: openness is essential for any organisation that has to take unpopular decisions. As the Bank of England is learning, it does not make you more popular, but it does give your decisions a crucial authority they would otherwise lack.
The rationale, such as it is, for the reluctance to reveal the ECB's inner workings is the fear that council members would feel compelled to vote the national line. But the solution is simply not to name names in the minutes, rather than to not publish minutes at all. The ECB will find that the kind of secrecy the German public will accept from the Bundesbank will not wash across the rest of Europe. It will not even impress the financial markets, as the ECB inspires nothing near Bundesbank-like confidence.
In trying to buck the world-wide trend towards greater transparency in policy-making, the ECB is making a big mistake. It scarcely bolstered confidence when it also announced yesterday that from July it will meet on the first Tuesday of every month to discuss interest rates; but August will be a month of rest. This is presumably to create more time for golf.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
iJobs Money & Business
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...
$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...