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Reform des EZB-Rates bei EU-Erweiterung. DIW Berlin plädiert für Anpassung der Entscheidungsstrukturen

Press Release of April 10, 2002

A further possible ten countries could be EU members by 2004. The EU accession countries will automatically become members of the Eurozone a few years after this, if they comply with the criteria stipulated in the Maastricht Treaty. In its current weekly report 15/2001, the DIW Berlin points out that if the European Central Bank (ECB) were to keep its present decision-making structure, it would in future not be able to react swiftly to the monetary requirements of an enlarged Eurozone. As the ECB's Governing Council runs in practice on the principle of unanimity, the imbalance between voting rights and the population or economic size of member countries - which support the voting rights - would further increase. The DIW Berlin therefore argues for a thorough reform of the ECB' s Governing Council: the seven largest countries should be represented in the Council by one delegate each; the smaller countries should form groups, with each group being represented by one delegate, who changes annually on a rotation basis. However, the necessary decisions must be taken before 2004, as it would be much more difficult to reach agreement on such a political decision after EU enlargement had already taken place. In its report, the DIW also states that the accession of countries to the EU, which have a retarded economic development, will not affect the ECB' s monetary policy, as the EU accession countries' influence on the consumer price index is only marginal.
The DIW Berlin suggests that groups of smaller countries are formed for the ECB's Governing Council on the basis of their economic importance. The indicators used could equally weight population and gross domestic product. Each group would choose one representative for the ECB's Governing Council. In order to prevent this representation having a strong national bias, the DIW Berlin suggests rotating the representatives for these groups on an annual basis. If the number of members in the ECB's Governing Council was limited to 19 and if the Executive Board's present structure of six members was kept, the ECB's Governing Council would have the following structure: the seven largest countries - Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and the Netherlands - would be represented by the president of their national central banks; the regional groups (Sweden/Denmark/Finland, Belgium/Ireland/Luxembourg, Greece/Cyprus/Malta, Austria/Portugal/Slovenia, the Czech Republic/Hungary/Slovakia, and Lithuania/Latvia/Estonia) would each have one representative and the role would be rotated on an annual basis. The four most important countries by far, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, would each have the permanent right to nominate one member of the Executive Board, which is made up of six people.