eichengreen136_Thomas LohnesGetty Images_christine lagarde Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

Democratizing the ECB

Recent tensions within the European Central Bank's Governing Council have underscored the need to manage disagreement better. The status quo, whereby the president presents a policy decision as a consensus, after which one or more Governing Council members may issue a dissenting statement, makes everyone look silly.

AMSTERDAM – The European Central Bank is undergoing a changing of the guard: a new president, a new chief economist, and two new Executive Board members. And the ECB’s new leadership is facing a contentious year in 2020.

For starters, former ECB President Mario Draghi’s last policy meeting was marked by disputes over quantitative easing and the president’s role in decision-making, underscoring disagreement within the Governing Council (comprising the Executive Board and national central bank governors) about monetary strategy. Should the ECB retain its point target for inflation but make that target symmetrical, in contrast to the present “below but close to 2%”? Or should it abandon all hope of coming close to 2% and settle for 1.5%?

Then there is the assertion by Draghi’s successor, Christine Lagarde, that the ECB should focus on climate change, even though the issue is not part of the central bank’s mandate (and even though monetary policy is not an obvious instrument for tackling it).

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