Let me start by expressing my admiration for the way by which you have balanced the contradictory political calls on the decisions you needed to take. You took them with determination and clarity.
You have no elective political responsibilities, neither national nor European. Yet you are called to take decisions that have huge political repercussions and you have made statements with deep political significance. It has also happened that political decision makers wait to take their cue from you when they want changes to the direction of the euro area.
You lead a central bank that has limited powers compared to those of equivalent institutions worldwide, so that you have been constrained to rely on declaratory statements that arguably exceed your powers in order to meet with emerging problems. You have been successful in this but increasingly less so.
You have advocated as a matter of urgency, the strengthening of the eurozone’s monetary institutions not least by a deepening of economic and monetary union. This should mean federalization of the Eurozone’s transnational political structures. Yet it runs counter to a further paradox: while European peoples are in favour of the euro, they do not approve a federated Europe.
Meanwhile, economic divergences within countries and regions have been growing not declining. Deepening emu under such conditions will likely accelerate divergences.
From a strategic perspective, should these contradictions be tolerated for much longer? Up to now, most policy options adopted have hardly been better than muddling through.
Has the time come for a strategic reappraisal of the options available for future development of the Eurozone, given too that consistently it has been underperforming economically compared to other monetary areas?
“Well, thanks first of all, thanks for the many compliments that you have addressed to the ECB and to the EACB. It is actually a compliment that would go to the founding fathers of this policy framework more than to the current members. Let me add to you that we are extremely careful to express ourselves within our mandate. There are several aspects of our policies, of the policies of other subjects that affect either financial stability, and or firstly, actually price stability. In this sense the ECB has and must speak about. Let me just make one point perhaps in responding to one of your most important observations: Where have said that deepening the European Monetary Union would accelerate divergences between countries. Now, we surely agree that euro area has to grow more, the current performance is dismal and the unemployment rate is unacceptably high and within it, the youth percentage of unemployment is also quiet, quiet I would say socially unacceptable. So we agree the euro area has to grow more. But do you really think that it does not grow because of the euro? That’s where I think I find hard following the statement, the reasoning. If we look at the last quarter GDP data, we see that fourteen, fourteen countries show positive growth, for some of them it is between 2-4% on an annual rate. We see 2 countries in recession and we see 2 countries, if I am not mistaken, in stagnation. Thank you.”
Ippermettili nibda billi nfisser l-ammirazzjoni tiegħi għall-mod kif irnexxielek tibbilanċja il-pressjonijiet politiċi kuntradittorji fuq id-deċizjonijiet li kellek tieħu. Dawk ħadthom b’determinazzjoni u direzzjoni ċara.
Int m’għandek l-ebda responsabbiltajiet politiċi ta’ persuna eletta, la fuq bazi nazzjonali u lanqas Ewropea. Izda int mistenni tieħu deċizjonijiet li għandhom konsegwenzi politiċi kbar u għamilt stqarrijiet li jġorru importanza politika qawwija. Ġara wkoll li politiċi f’karigi deċizjonali stennew li jisimgħu l-kelma tiegħek meta jkunu jridu xi bidla fit-tmexxija taz-zona ewro.
Int tmexxi bank ċentrali li mqabbel ma’ istituzzjonijiet bħalu mad-dinja, għandu poteri limitati, u b’hekk biex tilqa’ għal problemi li jkunu qed jikbru, kellek tistrieħ fuq stqarrijiet dwar x’lest tagħmel, liema stqarrijiet jeċċedu – skont uħud – il-poteri tiegħek. F’dan irnexxielek tasal imma maz-zmien anqas u anqas.
Int mexxejt l-argument li hi ħaġa urġenti li l-istituzzjonijiet monetarji taz-zona ewro jitqawwew, mhux l-anqas permezz ta’ tisħiħ mill-qiegħ tal-unjoni ekonomika u monetarja. Dan ikun ifisser li l-istrutturi politiċi transnazzjonali taz-zona ewro jiksbu sura federali. Madankollu, dan jikkontradixxi stat ta’ fatt paradossali: waqt li l-popli tal-Ewropa huma favur l-ewro, ma jaqblux ma’ Ewropa federali.
Sadattant, id-diverġenzi ekonomiċi fi ħdan pajjizi u reġjuni baqgħu jizdiedu, mhux jonqsu. It-tisħiħ tal-unjoni monetarja u ekonomika f’ċirkostanzi hekk, x’aktarx izid id-diverġenzi.
F’perspettiva strateġika, dawn il-kontradizzjonijiet għandhom jibqgħu jiġu ttollerati għal ħafna aktar zmien? Sa issa, ħafna mill-għazliet ta’ politika li ttieħdu ma tantx kienu aħjar minn lipazzar.
Wasal iz-zmien għal rivalutazzjoni strateġika tal-għazliet li jinsabu quddiemna dwar l-izvilupp futur taz-zona tal-ewro? – mhux l-anqas minħabba l-fatt li b’mod konsistenti ir-rizultati ekonomiċi li qed tikseb baqgħu taħt dawk miksuba minn zoni monetarji oħra?