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It-Tlieta, 15 ta' Jannar 2019 - Strasburgu Edizzjoni riveduta

14. Rapport Annwali 2017 tal-Bank Ċentrali Ewropew (dibattitu)
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  Presidente. – L’ordine del giorno reca la relazione di Gabriel Mato, a nome della commissione per i problemi economici e monetari, sulla relazione annuale 2017 della BCE (2018/2101(INI)) (A8-0424/2018).

 
  
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  Gabriel Mato, ponente. – Señor presidente, bienvenido, señor Draghi. Como siempre, es un placer tenerle en esta casa. Y me gustaría empezar mi intervención dando las gracias a los ponentes alternativos y a todos los colegas, por su gran apoyo y colaboración para poder presentar lo que, considero, es un buen informe.

El euro ha cumplido veinte años, y lo hace en su momento de mayor popularidad. Tres de cada cuatro ciudadanos piensan que es beneficioso para nuestra economía. Lo que empezó siendo la moneda común para 11 países lo es hoy para 19 y 340 millones de habitantes. Y, además, el euro llega a su vigésimo aniversario después de un gran año. En 2017 la economía europea creció a su ritmo más fuerte de los últimos diez años. Pero más importante es que todos los Estados miembros vieron cómo sus economías se expandieron. Y debemos reconocer que ello es debido tanto a la política monetaria del Banco Central Europeo como a las reformas estructurales que han llevado a cabo muchos Estados miembros.

Los últimos datos publicados por Eurostat, en julio del año pasado, nos demuestran que vamos en la buena dirección. El crecimiento económico para 2018 y 2019 se consolida por encima del 2 %. El desempleo se sitúa básicamente en niveles precrisis, en torno al 7 %, al mismo tiempo que el número de personas empleadas y la ratio de participación en el mercado laboral de la eurozona se sitúa en su nivel más alto desde la creación de la unión monetaria y económica en 1999. Pero no todo es positivo. Me alarma la falta de convergencia al alza y la tendencia de algunos Estados miembros a no solucionar sus déficits estructurales.

Por lo que respecta a la inflación, el Banco Central Europeo, cuya independencia estatutaria es fundamental, y yo reitero, está cumpliendo con su mandato de mantener la inflación por debajo, pero en torno al 2 %. En el medio plazo, se espera que para 2018, 2019 y 2020 la inflación se mantenga en torno al 1,7 %, y esto es, sin duda, gracias a las medidas adoptadas. También hemos visto una mejora en el crédito al sector privado, que, a mediados de 2018, aumentó a un ritmo del 3 % anual.

Dicho esto, tenemos que ser cautos debido a la incertidumbre que está surgiendo en torno a la Unión Europea con el resurgir de los populismos, las negociaciones y posibles consecuencias del Brexit y el proteccionismo, entre otros muchos riesgos. Debemos centrar nuestros esfuerzos en lo esencial, que no es otra cosa que garantizar que seguimos en la senda del crecimiento económico y la creación de empleo, que es la verdadera política social. Para ello es clave mantener un escenario propicio para la inversión pública y privada, logrando que llegue a sus niveles previos a la crisis.

En este aspecto, es necesaria una mayor acción por parte del BCE para garantizar que su política monetaria logra el objetivo de restablecer el crédito a la economía real, particularmente a las pymes, que son la columna vertebral de nuestra economía, y que las medidas de expansión monetaria beneficien a toda la sociedad en su conjunto. En el informe que hemos preparado y votaremos mañana hemos recogido todos los aspectos referentes a la política monetaria del Banco Central Europeo, valorando las medidas que tuvieron que adoptarse, pero también dando la bienvenida a la decisión de una reducción progresiva de dichas medidas, siempre y cuando la situación económica lo permita.

Destacamos la potencial subida de tipos de interés, la reducción del programa de compra de activos, las subastas de liquidez, el lanzamiento del programa de compra de bonos corporativos y, por supuesto, el programa de compra de deuda pública en la zona euro. Pero me gustaría destacar que el Banco Central Europeo no puede solucionar los problemas estructurales de los Estados miembros. Son los Estados miembros, en cooperación con las instituciones europeas, los que deben actuar a nivel nacional para establecer unas bases sólidas sobre las cuales asentar la Unión Europea.

Las medidas del BCE tienen carácter transitorio, y su principal ventaja es que dan tiempo a los Estados miembros para que estos puedan consolidar su situación fiscal e implementar reformas estructurales que crearán las condiciones para continuar en la senda del crecimiento económico, algo en lo que todos estamos implicados.

 
  
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  Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank. – Mr President of the European Parliament, Mr Vice—President of the Commission, honourable Members of the European Parliament, I am very pleased to be here to discuss with you the ECB’s activities and your draft resolution on the ECB’s Annual Report 2017.

Twenty years ago, on 1 January 1999, the euro was officially introduced and the Eurosystem started its monetary policy operations. Establishing a single currency area between 11 European countries was a historic step for our continent and certainly a quantum leap in our economic integration. Its twentieth anniversary gives us an opportunity to reflect on its successes, but also to consider what still needs to be done for the euro to deliver its full benefits.

In this context, I would like to use my remarks to take a look back at the ECB’s monetary policy, to take stock of what we have learned and to highlight the challenges that remain. I will mostly focus on the past seven years, which coincide with my term as ECB President.

The two decades in which the euro has existed could hardly have been more different. The first decade was the culmination of a thirty—year period of macroeconomic stability – the era known as the ‘Great Moderation’. The second decade then produced the worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression. Naturally, these periods required very different monetary policy responses and different tools to implement them.

As the pre—crisis period was characterised by moderate swings in the economic cycle, the ECB was able to ensure price stability mainly by adjusting its policy rates. But the crisis of 2008 fundamentally changed the economic and financial landscape in which we operated. New instruments became essential to safeguard the effectiveness of our monetary policy and stabilise the euro area economy. This in turn required us to refine our approach to central bank communication and accountability.

When I arrived at the ECB in November 2011, the euro area faced a very challenging set of circumstances. The economy had bounced back from the post-Lehman crisis in a similar manner to other jurisdictions. But, from 2010 onwards, a loss of confidence in the sustainability of sovereign debt had produced a vicious circle of rising borrowing costs, financial fragmentation, and contracting economic activity. Cuts in key ECB interest rates were not being passed on to firms and households to the same extent in every euro area country. We were witnessing a serious disruption in the monetary policy transmission mechanism which, if left untended, would have posed a profound threat to price stability.

The ECB responded with two sets of policies. First, central bank liquidity was made available to banks for up to three years and a range of collateral that banks could use to access central bank money was expanded. This helped reduce fragmentation in banks’ funding conditions. Second, the ECB announced what we called outright monetary transactions (OMTs) in the summer of 2012, which removed the redenomination risk in government bond markets stemming from fears of a possible euro break—up.

Yet the sovereign debt crisis left a deep scar on the economy. Unemployment rose steeply, firms cut back on investment and loan delinquencies increased. Even though financial fragmentation was diminishing, banks began to shrink their balance sheets and became less willing to lend. This produced a renewed cycle of contracting credit growth and weak demand dynamics. Inflation drifted downwards.

With inflation now well below our objective, the ECB faced a new type of policy challenge. We needed not only to repair the transmission problems created by deleveraging banks. We also needed to expand our policy stance to counteract deflationary pressures. So, in June 2014, we launched our targeted long—term refinancing operations, which once more provided long—term liquidity to banks – but conditional on extending credit to the private sector. We introduced negative rates on excess reserves to further encourage banks to lend to households and firms and, soon after, we announced our asset purchase programme (APP), buying asset—backed securities and covered bonds. Faced with a continued decline in inflation and a heightened risk of de—anchoring of inflation expectations, in January 2015 we expanded the asset purchase programme to include public sector securities.

Since then, both the size and duration of our asset purchases have been recalibrated in response to changes in the inflation outlook. Our asset purchases have also been complemented by further cuts in policy rates and the use of what we call ‘forward guidance’. Communicating our expectations about future policy, along with the conditions that would warrant a change in the policy stance, has successfully contributed to reduce the uncertainty around the expected future path of short—term interest rates, thereby helping to preserve accommodative financing conditions.

Supported by these policy measures, the euro area economy has steadily recovered. We have now seen 22 consecutive quarters of economic growth. There are 9.6 million more people in employment in the euro area than there were in the second quarter of 2013, which was the worst point of the crisis – so in five years. The unemployment rate has declined to 7.9%, its lowest level since October 2008, and the employment rate of people aged 15-74 has risen from 54% in 1999 to 59% in the second quarter of 2018, the highest rate ever recorded in the euro area.

The main motor of the recovery has been the domestic economy, driven by a strengthening in domestic demand and improving labour markets. That underlying strength of the economy has underpinned our confidence that inflation would converge towards our inflation aim in a sustained manner. As such, since 2017, we have gradually reduced the monthly pace of net asset purchases. We decided to end our net purchases in December last year, confident that the sustained convergence of inflation to our aim would proceed.

At the same time, recent economic developments have been weaker than expected and uncertainties, notably related to global factors, remain prominent. So there is no room for complacency here. A significant amount of monetary policy stimulus is still needed to support the further build—up of domestic price pressures and headline inflation developments over the medium term. Our forward guidance on key ECB interest rates, reinforced by the reinvestments of the sizeable stock of assets we have acquired so far, continues to provide the necessary degree of monetary accommodation for a sustained convergence of inflation to our objective.

So what have we learned from our experience? The ECB’s monetary framework rests on three elements: a clear mandate to achieve price stability; independence over the instruments we can use to achieve our mandate; and a strong accountability framework. The importance of each of these elements has been reinforced by the crisis.

First, we have seen that a well—defined mandate is vital for our credibility with the public, because it guarantees that the ECB will always act in the interest of the whole euro area and will not be swayed by interest groups.

Second, we have seen that instrument independence is key to an effective monetary policy since it allows the central bank to act quickly and flexibly to shocks, especially in exceptional times. Indeed, a well—equipped toolbox, comprising both standard and non—standard instruments, has proven indispensable in conditions where monetary policy transmission is impaired or where space for interest rate cuts is limited.

Third, we have seen the importance of a strong accountability framework, particularly when central banks have to use new tools that are not well understood by the public. Central banks are powerful and independent, but they are not elected. The combination can only be squared if they are held accountable by elected authorities.

In light of this, we have stepped up our efforts to improve our communication and strengthen our accountability in recent years. The Governing Council has started to publish the accounts of its monetary policy meetings. The ECB and the European Parliament have increased the intensity and focus of their exchanges. All this has provided us with more opportunities to explain our decisions and demonstrate how the ECB is acting in accordance with its mandate, which is a fundamental pillar of its legitimacy.

The crisis has offered many lessons beyond monetary policy too. The euro area entered the crisis with an incomplete institutional and regulatory framework, not only for the banking sector but also in other areas of economic policy. The creation of the banking union and the European Stability Mechanism has strengthened the ability of the EU authorities to intervene decisively in future crises. Reforms at national level and the strong political commitment to the euro shown by European policymakers were equally instrumental in strengthening the foundations of our common project. But the necessary changes took time and it was time that the euro area lost in its recovery. Our monetary union is now in a better shape, but further progress can, and should, be made.

As I had the opportunity to discuss during my regular hearing before the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, and as your draft resolution points out, the priority now is to increase the resilience of the euro area. This would also strengthen the transmission of monetary policy in future downturns. Resilience depends on the euro area being able to use a broad policy mix involving monetary, fiscal, prudential and structural instruments.

Let me now conclude. The first two decades of the euro area have seen an evolution in the way the ECB conducts its monetary policy. Faced with unprecedented threats to price stability, the ECB adapted its policy instruments to continue delivering on its mandate. We will continue to do so if and when needed, in compliance with our mandate as defined by the EU Treaties, and with all the independence over our tools as defined by our legal framework. Today, we can say that the euro area has emerged from a crisis so severe as to threaten at times its existence. We are out of it primarily because of the resilience, the energy, and the entrepreneurial capacity of European citizens, as well as their trust in their leaders’ commitment to the euro.

Our policy response and the important changes to the architecture of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in the meantime also helped the euro area out of the crisis. In many ways we have a stronger monetary union today than we had in 2008. This is also reflected in the euro’s popularity among euro area citizens, which is currently – as I was reminded a moment ago – at its highest level since it was introduced. But more work is still necessary to complete the EMU so as to make it more resilient in the face of future crises.

To deliver its full benefits, the European Union requires permanent political commitment, at both national and European levels, and across policy areas.

In this respect I can testify to the essential role the European Parliament has played during the challenging years of the crisis and I am certain that it will also be fundamental in carrying out the remaining work until the completion of Economic and Monetary Union.

The credibility of the ECB rests on its independence and this is based on its accountability with respect to its mandate, as enshrined in the EU Treaties. The European Parliament, in holding the ECB to account, gives legitimacy to its independence.

Since this is my last hearing before this plenary as ECB President, let me thank all of you for how this process has been carried out during my mandate, for the valued interactions with you, and the opportunity you have given me to explain the ECB’s policies.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Presidente. – Grazie signor Presidente per le parole che ha rivolto nei confronti del Parlamento europeo, fino alla conclusione del Suo mandato continuerà la collaborazione, anche se questo era il Suo ultimo intervento su questo argomento, però continueremo a lavorare insieme fino alla fine del Suo mandato. Grazie ancora per la Sua presenza e per la collaborazione.

Ora do la parola al Vicepresidente della Commissione europea, Valdis Dombrovskis.

 
  
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  Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice—President of the Commission. – Mr President, first of all, I would like to thank the rapporteur Mr Gabriel Mato and the members of the Committee on Economic Affairs for this report.

It’s a pleasure to be here to discuss it with you and Mario Draghi and that is all the more true in the context of the 20th anniversary of the euro. In those twenty years the euro has proved itself a successful currency which is widely supported by people. Around three—quarters of Europeans think that having the euro is a good thing for Europe.

A debate on the European Central Bank’s activities by the European Parliament is an important manifestation of democratic accountability. Let me start by saying that the Commission largely shares the general thrust of the report discussed here today.

The Commission shares the report’s views that the ECB’s independence in the conduct of its monetary policy as enshrined in the Treaties is crucial to the objective of safeguarding price stability.

Independence and accountability are intertwined and the Commission also acknowledges the European Central Bank’s efforts to improve transparency and democratic accountability vis-à-vis European citizens and the European Parliament.

We also share the view expressed in the report that monetary policy alone cannot sufficiently achieve sustainable economic growth and that the euro area economy should be supported by a mix of ambitious, socially balanced, growth—friendly and productivity—enhancing structural reforms and fiscal policies in line with the Stability and Growth Pact.

Allow me also to welcome the call in the report to accelerate the Capital Markets Union in order to deepen financial integration. This will help in building up resilience to shocks and making the transmission of monetary policy across the Monetary Union more effective.

The Commission shares the report’s view that deeper and better connected European capital markets, which will result from the Capital Markets Union and from the step—by—step completion of the banking union, will foster the international standing of the euro. This point was also emphasised in our Communication on a stronger international role for the euro that we presented on 5 December 2018.

I have no doubt that today’s debate will confirm the constructive engagement that has been developed between the European Parliament and the European Central Bank over the past years.

 
  
  

PREȘEDINȚIE: IOAN MIRCEA PAŞCU
Vicepreședinte

 
  
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  Esther de Lange, namens de PPE-Fractie. – Voorzitter, ik dank de heer Mato voor zijn goede verslag en de president van de ECB voor zijn toelichting op wat in grote lijnen positieve tendensen zijn in dit jaarverslag van 2017. Ik stel bijvoorbeeld tevreden vast, en dat schrijft u ook in uw verslag, dat veel banken deze betere tijden gebruiken om hun balansen gezonder te maken. Het percentage slechte leningen is inderdaad gedaald en u geeft alle cijfers.

Maar er zijn helaas nog uitzonderingen en ik ben er daarom trots op dat ik samen met collega Gualtieri en samen met een zeer constructieve Raad erin ben geslaagd om voor het eerst regels op te stellen die alle banken in de EU voortaan verplichten om slechte leningen aan te pakken. Eindelijk, zou ik zeggen. Dan moeten we nu ook, en de ECB wijst daar terecht op, de al bestaande slechte leningen aanpakken.

Tot slot misschien even EDIS, want ook daarover gaat het verslag van de heer Mato. Ik denk dat de recente ontwikkelingen omtrent de bank Carige in Italië goed illustreren welke zorgen er nog leven in dit debat. Het weliswaar private Italiaanse DGS wordt waar mogelijk gebruikt in deze crisis, niet om rekeninghouders schadeloos te stellen, maar om de bank van kapitaal te voorzien. We weten dat deze early intervention onder bepaalde voorwaarden is toegestaan, maar we weten ook dat het ene land daar meer gebruik van maakt dan het andere, met als gevolg dat de rekening toch weer naar de belastingbetaler geschoven wordt. Dat was nou juist niet de bedoeling. Dit verklaart de deadlock in de Raad. Dit verklaart waarom sommige landen weinig trek hebben om een uitsluitend Europees DGS te creëren. Waarom een Europese pot met geld maken als landen er zo verschillend mee omgaan? Ik vind dat als rapporteur van EDIS een heel terechte vraag, maar ik denk wel dat we hieruit moeten komen want uiteindelijk zijn we in Europa beter af met een oplossing en niet met een deadlock.

Als rapporteur heb ik dus ook een systeem voorgesteld dat eerst de verantwoordelijkheid bij het nationale DGS laat en daarna pas de solidariteit van een Europees DGS regelt. Ik heb dan ook een hele concrete vraag aan de president van de ECB, die altijd een warm voorstander van EDIS is geweest. Wat heeft u op dit moment liever: een voorzichtige start met het verslag zoals is voorgesteld in ECON of wachten tot een volgend Parlement om dit moeilijke onderwerp te behandelen?

 
  
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  Luigi Morgano, a nome del gruppo S&D. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, ringrazio il presidente Draghi per la sua presenza e il relatore Mato per il positivo lavoro condotto nella commissione per i problemi economici e monetari.

Senza dilungarmi sui dettagli della relazione, voglio rimarcare l'importanza di discutere e adottare questa relazione nel giorno in cui il Parlamento celebra i vent'anni dell'euro, un'opera di integrazione non solo economica e monetaria rilevante, ma per certi versi davvero senza precedenti.

L'euro è indubbiamente un successo nella storia europea, ma anche una costruzione ancora incompleta. L'incompletezza dell'Unione monetaria e bancaria con la mancanza di un sistema di garanzie dei depositi pienamente europeo e la mancanza di un braccio sociale e fiscale dell'Unione monetaria con un bilancio proprio sono le debolezze più visibili e più critiche. Alcuni in quest'Aula e fuori storcono il naso quando sentono queste valutazioni, quasi elevandosi, mi si permetta l'espressione, a vestali dell'austerità, sottovalutando che solidarietà e responsabilità vanno di pari passo. Non c'è mai abbastanza responsabilità nazionale per loro. In troppe circostanze, ogni volta, sono stati aggiunti ulteriori passi da compiere, creando ed inasprendo divisioni interne all'Unione, come conseguenza, siamo ancora, a vent'anni dalla creazione dell'euro, a discutere a livello tecnico di Edis, di bilancio dell'Eurozona, diritti sociali e mi fermo.

E lo spirito con cui abbiamo condotto in commissione ECON la discussione sulla relazione annuale della BCE è questo, consci del ruolo fondamentale che l'istituzione che Lei, Presidente Draghi presiede, ha svolto egregiamente. E allora mi rivolgo ai miei colleghi parlamentari, ai leader europei, anche alla luce del deludente risultato dell'ultimo Consiglio europeo di dicembre. Le misure straordinarie di politica monetaria messe in atto dalla BCE hanno salvaguardato la tenuta dell'eurozona, ma i nostri concittadini hanno comunque patito la crisi, l'Europa non ha saputo e ancora non sa rispondere alla richiesta di protezione.

Cosa possiamo fare? Credo innanzitutto dare seguito con i fatti alle parole e cioè non chiudiamoci nei recinti nazionali.

 
  
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  Ralph Packet, namens de ECR-Fractie. – Voorzitter, mijnheer Draghi, tien jaar geleden ontstond de financiële crisis. De crisis liep in Europa uit de hand door te veel schulden en te goedkoop geld. En wat is het antwoord van de ECB? Nog meer schulden en nog meer goedkoper geld. Zoals we ook in dit verslag lezen, heeft dat grote gevolgen. Verzekeringen en pensioenen komen in de problemen. De vastgoedprijzen stijgen supersnel en huizen worden onbetaalbaar voor de gewone mens. We zien enorme stijgingen van schulden bij bedrijven, bij gezinnen en vooral bij de overheden. Structurele hervormingen in de landen die ze nu het meest nodig hebben, worden uitgesteld.

En daarbovenop nog een andere duidelijk effect van uw beleid: de rente is zo laag dat ons spaargeld verdampt. Het brengt niks meer op. U laat de gewone man in de straat, de mensen van mijn leeftijd die niks te maken hebben met de crisis die begon in 2008, opdraaien voor het wanbeleid van de banken en van de overheden. We staan nu voor het einde van uw mandaat. Jarenlang wierp u zich op als de brandweerman die het vuur van de crisis heeft geblust. Ik vrees echter dat dit beleid het beleid zal blijken van een pyromaan, het beleid dat de volgende financiële crisis veroorzaakt.

 
  
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  Jean Arthuis, au nom du groupe ALDE. – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Président de la Banque centrale, cher rapporteur, chers collègues, au moment où notre législature touche à son terme, nous allons nous prononcer sur le rapport de la Banque centrale. Heureux concours de circonstances, nous avons célébré ce matin le vingtième anniversaire de l’euro, et c’est un moment d’émotion, Monsieur le Président Draghi, puisque c’est votre dernière présentation devant le Parlement européen.

Les messages de ce rapport sont nombreux. Je crois pouvoir dire que la Banque centrale européenne a rempli plus que correctement sa mission, notamment pendant la deuxième décennie. Naturellement, la Banque centrale européenne ne peut pas tout faire, et les États membres sont appelés eux-mêmes à être vigilants sur les dépenses publiques, leur maîtrise et leur bonne orientation au service des citoyens et de la compétitivité de l’économie. La Banque centrale européenne restera vigilante quant à de très nombreux problèmes: le niveau des prix sur le marché immobilier, les prêts consentis par les banques – consentis intelligemment –, avec une priorité donnée aux investissements d’avenir.

Je pense que le succès reconnu de l’euro est un prodige car, il y a vingt ans, nous avons fait naître une monnaie sans État, et c’est une situation unique au monde. C’est dire combien il est urgent de donner au plus vite à la zone euro le gouvernement économique, financier, budgétaire et social nécessaire pour combler une infirmité d’origine. Alors que le multilatéralisme est mis en cause, que la guerre économique mondiale menace, je pense qu’il serait bon que nous ayons l’ambition de faire de l’euro une arme, comme le font les États-Unis, à savoir qu’ils peuvent, dans certaines circonstances, sanctionner des banques et des entreprises de pays tiers.

Mes chers collègues, en ces temps de crise, l’euro et la Banque centrale européenne contribuent hautement à la résilience de l’Union européenne. Euro et Banque centrale européenne sont les emblèmes de notre confiance en l’avenir de l’Europe. Mais attention, la Banque centrale européenne ne doit pas être la béquille des insuffisances de la gouvernance politique.

 
  
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  Ernest Urtasun, en nombre del Grupo Verts/ALE. – Señor presidente, el Banco Central Europeo con sus medidas no convencionales ha mantenido a flote la economía de una zona euro diseñada de forma muy poco racional. Hay algunas cosas sobre esas medidas que hay que ver, elementos de democratización. También, como el presidente Draghi sabe, nos preocupa la compra de activos relacionados con el carbono, que no contribuyen a la lucha contra el cambio climático. Pero esas medidas han sostenido a flote la economía europea.

Ahora lo que hay que saber es si seremos capaces de hacer las reformas que sabemos que necesita la eurozona para evitar crisis futuras. Y nos preocupa que haya una extraña coalición entre aquellos que no quieren reducir riesgos y aquellos que no quieren mutualizarlos que impida hacer efectivamente esa reforma.

Sí hay que avanzar hacia estabilizadores automáticos; sí hay que avanzar hacia mecanismos contracíclicos a escala de la Unión Europea, con un presupuesto de este nombre. Sin ello, las debilidades del euro en el futuro seguirán siendo muy grandes, y por ello es imprescindible dar este salto que, sin duda, el euro debe dar después de su creación, veinte años atrás.

 
  
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  Matt Carthy, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – Mr President, the European Central Bank (ECB) has never protected borrowers in distress. They say that that is the job of Member States. But the central banks in many states, including Ireland, have also failed utterly to protect borrowers from repossessions and violent evictions. The Irish Central Bank now warns us that a new wave of mass repossessions is coming.

The fact that the EU institutions are legislating on how to deal with non—performing loans (NPLs) could and should be an opportunity to put in place strong protection for borrowers. But we can already see from the Commission and the Council’s approach, that their only interest is to actually restore the massive profits of Europe’s banks. The Commission’s proposal on the secondary market for NPLs will have extreme and, in my view, appalling consequences on mortgage holders.

If the ECB won’t protect ordinary people from debt vultures, if the national central banks won’t, if the Commission and Council won’t, then people will rightly ask who will. The Commission’s proposal needs to be scrapped. It is up to us in the European Parliament, alongside civil society, to block its progress.

 
  
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  Jörg Meuthen, im Namen der EFDD-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident, sehr geehrter Herr Präsident der EZB! Ihre Bilanz fällt nicht gut aus. Sie galten bei Ihrem Start im Jahr 2011 als Falke. Das war schon damals falsch.

Die Zinsen sind so niedrig wie nie zuvor. Sie haben sie in Ihrer siebenjährigen Amtszeit nicht ein einziges Mal erhöht. Deutschland, der wichtigste Motor des Euro-Währungsgebiets, steht vor einer Rezession. Das wird das Euro-Währungsgebiet mitreißen. Sie haben keine Möglichkeit mehr, darauf mit einer Zinssenkung zu reagieren.

 

Sie haben Anleihen in Milliardenhöhe gekauft und die Bilanz der EZB extrem ausgeweitet. Sie haben dadurch Arme ärmer und Reiche reicher gemacht. Sie haben die expansivste Geldpolitik gefahren, die es je gab. Die Targetsalden sind völlig außer Kontrolle. Deutschland hat Forderungen von fast einer Billion Euro, die dürften wertlos sein. Ihr letzter Zug ist nun, für den Rest Ihrer Amtszeit auf Zeit zu spielen, um diesen Scherbenhaufen Ihrem Nachfolger zu überlassen.

 

Meine Hoffnung ist, dass die Geschichtsschreiber erkennen werden, dass Sie es sind, der in Wahrheit für das ökonomische Desaster im Euro-Währungsgebiet verantwortlich ist. Dieses Desaster wird in nicht ferner Zeit offen zutage liegen, dann erfreuen Sie sich längst Ihres Ruhestandes.

 
  
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  Marco Zanni, a nome del gruppo ENF. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, Presidente Draghi, Lei oggi ha celebrato i vent'anni dalla nascita della moneta unica, e credo che sia un buon momento per tirare un bilancio concreto, guardando ai numeri e all'evoluzione delle economie e della condizione di vita dei cittadini dell'Eurozona, perché tutto questo voler festeggiare, guardando ai dati, io non lo vedo.

Tutte le promesse che erano state fatte ai cittadini europei riguardo alla nascita dell'euro sono state disattese. In questi vent'anni l'euro ha portato divergenze reddituali e di performance tra i paesi, ha portato bassa crescita. Oggi l'Eurozona è il continente o l'agglomerato che cresce di meno rispetto ai concorrenti, e la disoccupazione rimane alta: oggi è il doppio di quella degli Stati Uniti.

E anche il Suo mandato come Presidente della Banca centrale l'ha vista non raggiungere nemmeno gli obbiettivi statutari che la BCE ha: l'inflazione corre, soprattutto rimane al palo e lontana dalla sostenibilità autonoma verso il 2 %, e la BCE ha stampato un sacco di soldi che non sono arrivati all'economia reale. Per ogni cento euro stampati dalla Banca centrale europea, solo circa 29 sono arrivati a famiglie e imprese.

Ecco, credo che guardando a questo quadro ci sia ben poco da festeggiare, e sia un momento di riflessione importante per quelli che sono stati i fallimenti dell'euro e del suo mandato come Presidente di questa Banca centrale.

 
  
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  Σωτήριος Ζαριανόπουλος (NI). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, παρά τις θριαμβολογίες για την ευρωενωσιακή οικονομία, π.χ. τη δήθεν μείωση της ανεργίας με γενίκευση της μερικής απασχόλησης, δεν μπορείτε να κρύψετε τους φόβους σας. Αναιμική ανάπτυξη, επιβράδυνση, ανισομετρία, προστατευτισμοί, εμπορικοί πόλεμοι που πολλές φορές γίνονται θερμοί με χιλιάδες θύματα, Brexit, πολιτική αναταραχή και φόβος νέας χειρότερης κρίσης. Αυτή είναι η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και ο καπιταλισμός. Κάνετε συστάσεις-απειλές: συνέχιση αντιλαϊκών μεταρρυθμίσεων, φοροαπαλλαγές στο κεφάλαιο, φοροκυνηγητό στον λαό, μισθοί κατά την προαίρεση και τα κέρδη των καπιταλιστών, κατάργηση συλλογικών συμβάσεων, επιβίωση με επιδόματα-ψίχουλα και τράπεζες που ελέγχετε με απολύσεις, για παράδειγμα στην Ελλάδα δεκαπέντε χιλιάδων τουλάχιστον τραπεζοϋπαλλήλων την επόμενη διετία. Χιλιάδες πλειστηριασμοί-θηλιά στον λαιμό εκατομμυρίων ανθρώπων ή ρυθμίσεις με το πιστόλι στον κρόταφο για κεφαλαιακή ενίσχυση των τραπεζών και των κερδοσκοπικών funds, δηλαδή μνημόνια γενικευμένα και διαρκείας. Το ψευτοδίλημμα «συντήρηση ή πρόοδος» πάει να κρύψει την ενιαία στρατηγική σύμπλευση ακροδεξιάς, συντηρητικών, σοσιαλδημοκρατών, νεοαριστερών τύπου Τσίπρα που συγχαίρουν Μέρκελ και Τραμπ. Η διαφορά είναι στην οργανωμένη πάλη του λαού και στην ενίσχυση των κομμουνιστών για την ανατροπή αυτής βαρβαρότητας.

 
  
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  Dariusz Rosati (PPE). – Mr President, I would like first to congratulate President Draghi on the 20th anniversary of the euro and also of the European Central Bank just a few months ago. Contrary to other speakers, I am absolutely convinced that you, President Draghi, can be proud of your leadership. You have been very efficient in fending off the existential crisis that hit the euro area in 2012. Thanks to your determined stance, the euro has survived and now flourishes. Many of these critiques that we heard just a few minutes ago simply give a picture of some ignorance on the part of our colleagues, who unfortunately don’t understand how monetary policy works. That was on the past.

Now to the future. We, and especially the ECB, face three important challenges. We have to recall that a slowdown is under way in the European economy and that the next recession is probably around the corner. Is the ECB prepared to face this challenge? What is important is to build room for manoeuvre in monetary policy, because at the zero/lower band interest rate level there is not so much flexibility on the monetary policy side to help the economy. Finally, the question of non-performing loans in the banking sector has to be addressed very quickly.

 
  
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  Mercedes Bresso (S&D). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, ringrazio i relatori e il Presidente Draghi per il loro lavoro.

Oggi, a vent'anni dall'introduzione dell'euro, questa relazione è un tassello in più per ricordare il ruolo importante che la Banca centrale ha svolto negli ultimi anni. Malgrado le sciocchezze dette da alcuni colleghi, non c'è dubbio che il rafforzamento della fiducia dei cittadini nella moneta comune in un momento così difficile è un segnale importante: la lotta contro la deflazione, il mantenimento della stabilità monetaria dell'Unione, lo sviluppo dell'Unione bancaria europea.

Sarebbe però altrettanto importante che la Banca centrale europea tenesse conto anche delle ripercussioni sociali delle sue politiche, come richiesto dagli accordi di Parigi. Il caso recente del commissariamento della Banca Carige in Italia evidenzia un ruolo positivo che la BCE può svolgere e svolge nella protezione dei piccoli risparmiatori e investitori. Dobbiamo generalizzare questo ruolo, portando avanti il ragionamento che è anzitutto quello di completare l'Unione bancaria con un sistema di garanzia dei depositi che sia sicuro e realizzabile per tutti.

Saremo qui, in Parlamento, attenti ai progressi e ai risultati futuri, e Le facciamo i migliori auguri per questa Sua fine di mandato.

 
  
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  Bernd Lucke (ECR). – Herr Präsident, meine Damen und Herren! Das Parlament feiert heute 20 Jahre Euro. Aber was feiern wir denn eigentlich? Wenn wir ehrlich sind, müssen wir doch sagen, der Euro hat uns eine Schwierigkeit nach der anderen eingebrockt. Schauen wir zum Beispiel auf die Staatsschuldenkrise: Wir hätten doch nie eine Staatsschuldenkrise gehabt, wenn wir nicht den Euro gehabt hätten. Denn solange Staaten ihre nationale Währung haben, können sie ihre Staatsschulden stets bedienen, indem sie ihr eigenes Geld drucken. Wir hätten nie eine Bankenkrise dieses Ausmaßes gehabt, wenn wir nicht den Euro gehabt hätten, denn die Bankenkrise kam doch nur dadurch zustande, dass die Staaten auf riesigen Beständen von Staatsanleihen saßen, und diese Staatsanleihen waren gefährdet, weil die Staaten ihr eigenes Geld nicht mehr drucken konnten. Wir hätten keine Bankenkrise gehabt, wir hätten keine Staatsschuldenkrise gehabt, und wir hätten auch keine Massenarbeitslosigkeit gehabt – fast überall in Südeuropa enorme Jugendarbeitslosigkeit. All diese Schwierigkeiten hat uns doch der Euro eingebrockt.

Wir haben nichts zu feiern beim Euro. Wir müssen harte Arbeit leisten, um diese ganzen Probleme, die der Euro aufgetürmt hat, irgendwie in den Griff zu kriegen. Der Euro hat die Erwartungen überhaupt nicht erfüllt, der Euro ist eigentlich ein völlig fehlgeschlagenes Experiment.

 
  
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  Piernicola Pedicini (EFDD). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, Presidente Draghi, io Le parlo da italiano, cioè da cittadino di un paese fondatore dell'Unione europea, che ricordo è anche il terzo paese contributore tra i contribuenti dell'Unione.

Sono venticinque anni che l'Italia fa registrare un avanzo primario, per cui la storia che gli italiani abbiano vissuto al di sopra delle loro possibilità è una balla colossale, probabilmente inventata dai banchieri tedeschi o francesi. Se abbiamo un passivo ogni anno è solo grazie agli interessi di un debito pubblico che è cresciuto a dismisura, specialmente negli anni Ottanta grazie a tassi di interesse anche del 10 %, quindi un vero e proprio strozzinaggio. In questo modo assurdo, siamo arrivati a 2 300 miliardi di debito pubblico, sul quale fino ad ora gli italiani hanno pagato 3 500 miliardi di debito di interessi, quindi, una volta e mezzo il debito stesso. Un vero e proprio scandalo.

Ora questo debito pubblico lo comprano le banche europee, lo comprano anche le banche tedesche, le banche francesi e lo comprano anche con denaro prestato dalla BCE a interessi bassissimi, a tasso di interesse bassissimo e senza nessuna condizionalità, il che ha permesso a queste banche di speculare proprio verso quei paesi ad alto spread. E lo comprano però purtroppo anche con denaro creato dal nulla, semplicemente aggiungendo quindi degli zeri al computer.

Il problema però è che questi interessi i cittadini italiani li pagano con l'economia reale, li pagano con il sudore reale, non con un sudore inventato dal nulla. Però questo sistema sembra accontentare tutti, le banche sono contente perché di fatto speculano tranquillamente, facendo rientrare i propri capitali, si accontentano gli Stati che piazzano i loro titoli di Stato, purtroppo a pagare è l'economia reale.

A pagare l'economia reale sono quelle piccole e medie imprese, quelle aziende che non hanno più accesso al credito, e dove non c'è accesso al credito cresce la disoccupazione. La disoccupazione nell’Unione europea ha raggiunto livelli spaventosi proprio in quei paesi dove è cresciuto il debito pubblico; sto parlando di Grecia e Spagna e immancabilmente purtroppo anche dell'Italia.

Ora, se leggiamo l'articolo 127 del trattato sul funzionamento dell'Unione europea, si dice che oltre alla stabilità dei prezzi – Lei ha detto che questa sostanzialmente è stata raggiunta – la BCE deve contribuire alla realizzazione degli obiettivi dell'Unione, cioè combattere la disoccupazione e promuovere una crescita economica equilibrata.

Allora la mia domanda è: la BCE ha davvero intenzione di combattere la speculazione finanziaria? La BCE ha davvero intenzione di agire in maniera mirata e differenziata per azzerare gli spread dei singoli Stati membri? La BCE ha davvero intenzione di azzerare il meccanismo dello spread che distrugge l'economia di Stati membri come l'Italia e immancabilmente distrugge o indebolisce irrimediabilmente anche l'Unione europea stessa?

 
  
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  Marcus Pretzell (ENF). – Herr Präsident, sehr geehrter Herr Draghi, meine Damen und Herren Kollegen! Für 20 Jahre Euro feiern Sie sich derzeit. Tatsache ist aber, dass die Ungleichgewichte innerhalb des Euro-Währungsgebiets nach wie vor riesig sind. Das drückt sich zum einen aus in den Targetsalden, die nach wie vor auf Rekordniveau stehen. Das drückt sich in den Differenzen bei der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, insbesondere der industriellen Entwicklung in Frankreich und Italien zum Beispiel, aus. Das drückt sich aber auch darin aus, dass Deutschland nach wie vor bei der Lohnentwicklung beispielsweise massiv zurückhängt.

Das Euro-Währungsgebiet gehört weltweit zu den Gebieten mit dem niedrigsten wirtschaftlichen Wachstum der vergangenen Jahre. Wir haben selbst in Afrika weite Teile, die sich besser entwickelt haben in den vergangenen Jahren, als es das Euro-Währungsgebiet getan hat. Venezuela ist vielleicht noch ein Beispiel, das sich noch schlechter entwickelt hat. Das gilt eben für alle sozialistisch-planwirtschaftlich regierten Systeme. Tatsache ist auch, dass wir weiter Staatsschulden angehäuft haben, und dass Sie, Herr Draghi, dafür maßgeblich mitverantwortlich sind.

 
  
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  Ελευθέριος Συναδινός (NI). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κύριε Draghi, πίσω από τη δική σας θεσμική υπόσταση, πραγματικοί υπαίτιοι σε αυτό το θέατρο σκιών είναι οι εντολείς σας και όσοι εθνικοί ηγέτες που - παραδομένοι στις υποσχέσεις, το εφήμερο όφελος και το παροδικά φθηνό χρήμα - παρέδωσαν κυριαρχικά δικαιώματα, υποθήκευσαν την περιουσία των πολιτών και ξεπούλησαν εθνικές αποταμιεύσεις. Είστε ένας κεντρικός τραπεζίτης που ελέγχει την προσφορά του χρήματος αλλά δεν εντέλλεται την τόνωση της ζήτησης. Υπεύθυνος για τη σταθερότητα των τιμών αλλά όχι για την ευρωστία της οικονομίας, τη μεγιστοποίηση της υγιούς εργασιακής απασχόλησης και της ενίσχυσης των μισθών και της αγοραστικής δύναμης. Προσφέρατε τα πάντα για μια ένωση κατ’ επιταγήν και με αποκλειστικό όφελος της Γερμανίας και των δορυφόρων της. Για μια Γερμανία που, από το 2008, εξοικονόμησε, χάρη στα δικά σας χαμηλά επιτόκια δανεισμού, 368 δισεκατομμύρια ευρώ. Κάθε σας πράξη αποδεικνύει τις στρεβλώσεις του οικοδομήματος ένεκα πολιτικών και μεροληπτικών αποφάσεων: μια κεντρική τράπεζα μιας ατελούς ένωσης με περιορισμένες ευθύνες και ελλείψει εντολών.

 
  
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  Tom Vandenkendelaere (PPE). – Voorzitter, mijnheer Draghi, collega's, vanmiddag vierden we de 20e verjaardag van de euro, maar nog niet zo heel lang geleden hing het voortbestaan van onze eenheidsmunt echt aan een zijden draadje. Uiteindelijk was het de Europese Centrale Bank, die tot de spijt van menig criticus hier in de zaal, onze euro door de crisis heeft geloodst. Waarom was het de Europese Centrale Bank die de kastanjes uit het vuur moest halen? Voordat er een eenheidsmunt gecreëerd wordt, maakt men normaal gezien eerst werk van politieke en economische integratie. De euro heeft precies de omgekeerde weg afgelegd. We gooiden de pasgeboren euro in het zwembad en hij zal wel vanzelf leren zwemmen, maar dat is niet gebeurd, of toch niet helemaal, en dat maakt onze muntunie ook vandaag nog enorm kwetsbaar, want de economische verschillen tussen lidstaten zijn nog altijd heel erg groot. Zulke verschillen zijn moeilijk houdbaar tenzij er voldoende solidariteitsmechanismen zijn ingebouwd, maar dat is vooralsnog niet het geval.

Dus waarom heeft de ECB de euro moeten redden? Omdat er een gebrek is geweest aan politieke moed om onze muntunie af te werken. Vandaag zijn de economische vooruitzichten opnieuw wat somberder. We staan voor de keuze: ofwel vervolledigen we de monetaire Unie, zodat die zelf in staat is weerstand te bieden tegen de volgende crisis, ofwel laten we straks opnieuw het werk doen door de ECB. Voor mij is de keuze overduidelijk: sta me dan ook toe om de collega's die de roede voor de ECB niet gespaard hebben vanmiddag en haar verwijten haar boekje te buiten zijn gegaan, uit te nodigen om mee aan de kar te trekken en een muntunie te creëren met voldoende solidariteitsmechanismen, onder meer op het vlak van begrotingsbeleid en een diepgaande banken- en kapitaalmarktenunie.

 
  
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  Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner (ECR). – Arvoisa puhemies, Euroopan keskuspankin vuosikertomusta koskevassa mietinnössä todetaan, kuinka EU:n talous kasvoi vuonna 2017 nopeiten kymmeneen vuoteen ja työttömyys oli alimmillaan sitten vuoden 2008. Samalla kiinnitetään huomiota epävarmuustekijöihin, joista yksi on kotitalouksien jatkuva velkaantuminen.

Usein velkaantuminen johtuu pikavipeistä, joiden todellinen vuosikorko voi nousta satoihin, räikeimmissä tapauksissa jopa tuhansiin prosentteihin. Vanhoja lainoja maksetaan uusia ottamalla, mikä voi johtaa vuosikausia kestävään velkavankeuteen. Ylivelkaantuminen on henkilökohtainen tragedia, jonka seurauksena ihmissuhteet, terveys ja yleinen elämänlaatu kärsivät.

Pikavippifirmojen toiminnassa ei ole kysymys asiakkaiden auttamisesta vaan näiden taloudellisen ahdingon hyväksikäytöstä. Olen jo pitkään vaatinut parempaa kuluttajansuojaa pikavippeihin sortuneille. Kaikkein tehokkain tapa puuttua tähän haitalliseen liiketoimintaan olisi kieltää se kokonaan. Toivon että saan laajaa tukea pikavippikiellolle.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Schaffhauser (ENF). – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur Draghi, permettez-moi de vous admirer. Quel culot! À la veille d’une crise financière attendue par tous les spécialistes, voilà que vous venez nous dire que tout va bien.

Vous auriez dû savoir – et vous savez – qu’il fallait un budget fédéral à l’euro. Comme personne ne voulait de ce budget, vous aviez une possibilité, c’était utiliser la Banque centrale – ce qu’avaient également proposé M. Maystadt, le président de la BPI et la Caisse des dépôts italienne – pour financer l’économie réelle des pays du Sud et diminuer la disparité. Cette politique, en 2012, les Allemands ne l’ont pas voulue. Aujourd’hui, vous vous en êtes sortis en achetant 2 600 milliards de dette publique et en annulant les taux. Le résultat, c’est plus de dette, moins de création de richesses et plus de déficit. C’est une faillite!

 
  
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  Νότης Μαριάς (ECR). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κύριε Draghi, η ευρωζώνη χρειάζεται άμεσες αλλαγές. Απαιτείται κατάργηση του δρακόντειου Σύμφωνου Σταθερότητας και εγκατάλειψη της λιτότητας και της βίαιης δημοσιονομικής προσαρμογής. Η ΕΚΤ πρέπει να μετατραπεί σε ύστατο δανειστή των κρατών μελών και το Ευρωπαϊκό Σύστημα Κεντρικών Τραπεζών πρέπει να αποκεντρωθεί, τα κράτη μέλη να ανακτήσουν τη νομισματική τους κυριαρχία, και να μπορούν οι κεντρικές τράπεζες των κρατών μελών να ασκούν αυτοτελή νομισματική πολιτική μέχρι του ποσού που αντιστοιχεί στο ποσοστό συμμετοχής τους στο κεφάλαιο της ΕΚΤ. Η ΕΚΤ πρέπει να πάψει να υπηρετεί τη γερμανική Ευρώπη, μια Ευρώπη στην οποία η Γερμανία συσσωρεύει εμπορικά πλεονάσματα και ο ευρωπαϊκός Νότος αυξημένα ελλείμματα και χρέη. Τέλος, κύριε Draghi, η ΕΚΤ και εσείς προσωπικά οφείλετε να ζητήσετε μια μεγάλη συγγνώμη από τον φτωχοποιημένο ελληνικό λαό, στον οποίο ως τρόικα επιβάλατε μνημόνια προκειμένου να διασωθούν οι ξένες τράπεζες, όπως ομολόγησε άλλωστε και ο ίδιος ο κύριος Dijsselbloem.

 
  
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  Peter van Dalen (ECR). – Voorzitter, de ECB heeft de afgelopen jaren vierduizend miljard euro in de economie van de eurozone gepompt. Een bedrag groter dan het bruto nationaal product van Duitsland. Al dat goedkope geld was fijn voor landen als Italië en Frankrijk, die het mede daardoor vertikten echte hervormingen door te voeren. Maar nu kampen ze nog steeds met hoge overheidsschulden, hoge werkloosheid en grote jeugdwerkloosheid.

Dat goedkope geld is ook prettig voor de banken, maar door die lage rentes zijn wel de pensioenfondsen in de problemen gekomen en is sparen helaas zinloos geworden. Het ECB-beleid is te soft en te royaal geweest en daarom vrees ik dat we binnenkort nog een flinke rekening gepresenteerd gaan krijgen nu de economische groei afzwakt. Ik roep de regering op nu echt te gaan hervormen. En dan niet in de vorm van een transferunie, maar wel efficiëntere overheden, eerlijkere belastingheffingen en investeren in mensen en duurzaamheid.

 
  
 

Intervenții la cerere

 
  
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  Mario Borghezio (ENF). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, signor commissario, l'enorme carico di oltre 650 cause e azioni legali di vario genere che da vari soggetti, non solo banche, sono state intentate verso l'autorità unica di risoluzione e le varie istituzioni europee coinvolte nell'attività di vigilanza e nella gestione delle crisi bancarie, è un dato di fatto molto pesante, che dovrebbe preoccuparci tutti.

Io sollecito la Sua attenzione al riguardo di questa questione, che non viene affrontata, nonostante l'allarme gettato molto chiaramente dalla Corte dei conti europea, che infatti ha annoverato l'entità delle passività potenziali che stanno in capo al sistema finanziario europeo in conseguenza delle procedure di risoluzione nelle banche a rischio di fallimento.

Lei non ritiene che da ciò ci sia un peso pesantissimo, rilevantissimo, sulla credibilità, sia del comitato di risoluzione sia della Commissione europea e del Consiglio europeo? Bisogna parlare chiaro e dire le cose come stanno quando ci si rivolge a noi che rappresentiamo il popolo reale e quindi, come è stato detto molto bene, l'economia reale che voi avete massacrato.

 
  
 

(Încheierea intervențiilor la cerere)

 
  
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  Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, in my introductory remarks I recalled the constructive engagement that has developed between the European Parliament and the European Central Bank over the past years, and the large convergence of views in many aspects of Mr Mato’s report shows that this continues to be the case.

However, in my concluding remarks let me come back to a point which was also highlighted in the report: the need for financial integration, amongst others things, to improve the transmission of a monetary policy. And this brings me to the topic of the Capital Markets Union and completion of the banking union.

But there I would point out that out of the 30 legislative proposals which the Commission has put out on the Capital Markets Union, only three proposals have been adopted, and there is political agreement on a further two.

So, therefore, we count on your continued support for the Capital Markets Union project, which would lead to deeper and better-connected capital markets and thus also foster the international standing of the euro.

 
  
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  Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank. – Mr President, first of all, I thank the rapporteur, honourable Member, Mr Mato, for his report. I certainly thank you for all the compliments the ECB has received and I will respond to the criticisms.

First of all, about the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS). The ECB has always been a supporter of EDIS, of the insurance. I want just to make three points about that. First of all, whatever the road is to EDIS, the final goal of having a fully mutualised EDIS should always remain in sight. Now the road to that goal is not going to be simple, we all know that. And so various steps and delays and compromises and negotiations are necessary. But the direction and the sense of final results should always be present. So what you decide about how to move ahead, will be really in your own judgment. The important thing is that, whatever you decide, we’ll never compromise over the final outcome.

The third point I want to make about EDIS is that there is no clear progress on this road unless there is convincing risk reduction everywhere. By the way, big progress has been achieved on that front already but more needs to be done. The ECB has shown in various places on various occasions that risk sharing also itself contributes to risk reduction, so the two arms of this journey towards the final goal of a fully—neutralised insurance system should go hand in hand.

Several questions addressed the economic effects of the policy of the ECB. Comparisons were made with non—euro parts of the world and with before the euro – how the world was beautiful, fantastic, before the euro. I’ve gone through these comparisons in a recent speech I gave. It was not fantastic, especially for the countries that complain most today about the euro; it was not fantastic at all before the euro.

Let me make a comparison with the United States, because someone raised that point. The employment rate in 1998 in the euro area at 19 was 59.8%, now it’s 67.3% – the highest ever in the euro area. In the United States, it was 73.9% in 1998, today it’s 70.6% so it went down, not up.

The jobs created in the euro area over this period of time have been 19.8 million. And the jobs created in the United States were 17.2 million. Of course we have to be careful about making these comparisons because the units have to be standardised and the same thing we get on the employment numbers, in millions.

So when I’m asked about the side effects of our monetary policy in the euro area, the response is that the main side effect between 2013 – when the situation was at its worst – and today, has been the creation of 9.6 million jobs, which is more than ever. That’s the main side effect.

Other questions related to the presence of financial stability risks. Well, it’s true that in certain localised areas over the euro area we observed that valuations are stretched in prime commercial real estate. Also in some areas of some countries in the residential real estate, in some segments of the bond market. But are any of these risks prone to generate systemic financial stability risk? The answer that we give so far is no. But of course we monitor all this very carefully. And the answer to these local situations cannot be a change in monetary policy. It has to be the use of macroprudential tools by the national governments. We’ve said this and, in fact, national governments have indeed responded, with their national instruments together with the ECB.

More generally, some questions addressed the role of the ECB and very rightly, as observed by the rapporteur, the ECB has its role but cannot fill all the roles that everybody else should fill. The ECB has a role which is limited to monetary policy, which is circumscribed by its mandate. It cannot do everybody else’s job.

In this sense, as I have said on a variety of occasions including this morning, not all its benefits have accrued to all the members of the euro area. Why is that? Because of two main reasons. Reforms are necessary in these countries whether they belong to the euro, or are outside the euro. You have got to make the reforms that are necessary. There is not a blueprint which is the same for all countries. It does change from country to country; each country has its own history. And so that’s the basic thing: no reforms, no growth.

But then there are also problems, also incompleteness in the Economic and Monetary Union. And the first incompleteness is to finish the things that had been decided already, namely the banking union. The second is to start to move fast on the capital markets union and the third is to build fiscal capacity. But if you do the first two things – and the European Parliament has really carried out a very positive and constructive role at each and every point in time of this discussion – if these two things are done, we are way better, even if the next steps on the creation of the fiscal capacity may take longer for pretty obvious political difficulties.

There was one question about what the ECB could do about certain specific loans that banks have lent to citizens. Generally, the ECB cannot do anything about that, it’s the national competent authority. Very often, these issues are a consumer protection issue, so it’s the national consumer protection authority that has to monitor the conditions of lending. But generally speaking – and this holds true also in other countries where the non—performing loans (NPLs) problem is really very dramatic because of its social consequences – in non—performing loans you always have two types of debtors: the ones who are normal or even strategic debtors and the ones who are part of a big social problem. For these problems, the response is not to change the payments culture but rather to help the poor people who cannot pay back. One should keep the two things separate. Don’t change, don’t affect, don’t damage, don’t harm your banking system, your financial system because the result of this will only be that they will not be able to lend as much as they could to the private sector of your economy, but rather help the poor people who cannot pay.

Now, one question that has been asked from several sides is if we are heading towards the next recession – and I will say something about that in a moment – does the ECB have the tools to address this? The answer is yes. The ECB has the tools to address this but keep in mind that our present monetary policy stance is very accommodative already. We have negative interest rates and they are expected to be like this for an extended period of time. And, even though we have decided to stop the net asset purchases, we also decided that the current stock will stay what it is for a considerable period of time. What does it mean? It means that, as bonds come to maturity, we repurchase the bonds. What does it mean in terms of numbers? It means that we will continue buying, by and large – at least this year or the next year – 15 billion euros of bonds a month, which was, by and large, what we had been buying in the last 3 months of last year.

There was perhaps more than one question about whether our monetary policy has helped equity. We went into some depth in trying to understand what the effects are of monetary policy on the distribution of income, distribution of wealth. It’s quite clear that each monetary policy decision has distributional effects. When we change interest rates we change distribution between creditors and debtors, or between young and old. But certainly the asset purchases, the quantitative easing (QE), have distributional impacts which are even more visible and direct because asset prices go up and the owners of assets are usually the wealthy ones.

So the question we ask ourselves is, is our policy worsening the distribution? If you consider all the effects, the answer is no. Why is that? It is true that it worsens the distribution in the short term. However, what is the factor that worsens the distribution more than any other factor? It’s the unemployment. Where the monetary policy of the ECB has been a success was in fostering strong employment growth, as I presented at the beginning of this response.

One question addressed the point of access by SMEs to credit. Has our policy prevented, restrained, or shrunk access by SMEs to credit? The answer is absolutely no. Both our corporate bond programme and our QE programme created space in the bank’s balance sheet for lending more to the SMEs. All data since 2013, since even when we started with the longer—term refinancing operations (LTROs) – by the way the LTROs are not unconditional lending – and the targeted longer—term refinancing operations (TLTROs), is lending to banks on condition they lend to firms, to the real economy. I don’t know where the fairy tale thing about EUR 29 out of a hundred actually came from.

In terms of another interesting irony of some of the questions, was that one hears that monetary financing of the deficit is now the solution to all problems. That’s one of the questions that was raised before. That is actually interesting. First of all, because when monetary financing was available, for the countries that actually vastly used monetary financing before the euro, the situation was very bad. They got very high inflation and they got unemployment higher than countries that did not use monetary financing.

What is actually quite paradoxical is that you hear this solution of monetary financing from people who were against monetary financing as an utmost crime until yesterday.

I think I have responded to most of the problems, and now one word about the outlook. If we take a snapshot of the situation as it is today, statically, we still see a situation where consumption is still expanding, relatively strong, investment still expanding, supported by our monetary policy, export growth is less, but still good. And the labour market keeps on being very strong.

However, all this is happening at lower and lower growth rates. And we have been receiving weaker data than expected now for a longer time than we had expected a few months ago. In other words, at the beginning we had lower data and we said – and we continue to say, by the way – that some of this weaker momentum was due to temporary factors, and specific to sectors and certain countries. For example, what happened to the car industry; this is one example which is a temporary drop.

But then we also said that there are also some more permanent causes of this slowing—down. And the causes of this slowing—down are going to stay. One of which is simply that 2017 was a pretty exceptional year when compared with historical averages. And so we return to a lower growth path.

But then the question that we should ask is, first of all, is this what is called a sag or is it heading towards a recession? And the answer we give is no, it’s a slowdown, which is not heading towards a recession, but it could be longer than was expected before. And on what does the length of this slowdown depend? To answer this question we have to go back and ask ourselves what are the factors that originally caused this weakening in growth. And the factors deal primarily with some slowdown in China, of course, but with what we call geopolitical uncertainties. And here, the natural question to ask is how long will these geopolitical uncertainties last. These geopolitical uncertainties put into question the pillars upon which the order, that was built after the Second World War, was constructed.

And they put into question the European Union. They have to do with Brexit. They have to do with trade tensions with China. They have to do with the denial of the multilateral system. And we notice, however, that some of these things get better and some others get worse.

The result of this, however, is that, at least for some time to come, there’s going to be a continuing uncertainty that changes nature, and this has a cost. And the cost is lower confidence – lower business confidence and lower consumer confidence. That’s why we are now assessing the situation, as I said. My impression is, Mr President, that I have responded to all questions. If I missed someone I apologise.

 
  
  

VORSITZ: RAINER WIELAND
Vizepräsident

 
  
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  Gabriel Mato, ponente. – Señor presidente, deseo reiterarle, señor Draghi, que me alegro de su presencia aquí, aunque hoy haya tenido como consecuencia que se haya convertido casi más en una comparecencia que en el análisis del informe anual de 2017. Pero me parece bien. Y deseo agradecer, por supuesto, su reconocimiento a la labor que este Parlamento lleva a cabo. ¡Ojalá cunda su ejemplo!

También deseo agradecer al vicepresidente Dombrovskis por su positivo análisis del informe. Y por supuesto, gracias a los colegas que han intervenido. También a aquellos cuyas posiciones no comparto.

Sí comparto con el señor Draghi que no hay que ser complacientes y que hay que reforzar la capacidad de adaptación y dotarnos de instrumentos para afrontar nuevas crisis. Ya tenemos la experiencia en crisis. No cometamos los mismos errores. Es verdad, tenemos una unión monetaria más sólida, pero quedan algunos temas pendientes. Aquí se han destacado algunos, el SEGD, créditos morosos y otros también importantes que tenemos que afrontar con decisión. Comparto, también, que reducir riesgos y compartir riesgos deben ir de la mano.

Y termino. Quiero recordar la importancia de no conformarnos y de seguir adelante. Por ello, me gustaría destacar dos puntos que han quedado recogidos en el informe con el apoyo casi unánime de este Parlamento: la importancia de continuar avanzando hacia una mayor integración financiera a través de la unión de los mercados de capitales, que ayudará a la buena transmisión de la política monetaria y garantizará una mayor estabilidad en la zona euro; la necesidad de cumplir los objetivos de sostenibilidad en el contexto de las políticas monetarias —el BCE queda bajo el Acuerdo de París y, al igual que todas las instituciones europeas, tiene que apoyar el cumplir los objetivos establecidos—; y para terminar, deseo reconocer algo que también ha destacado el señor Draghi: el trabajo realizado por el BCE en materia de transparencia para mejorar la comunicación de sus políticas, sobre todo teniendo en cuenta que el BCE tiene absoluta independencia en la conducción de su política monetaria, tal y como queda recogido en los Tratados.

El triángulo rendición de cuentas, mayor transparencia e independencia es clave.

 
  
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  Der Präsident. – Die Aussprache ist geschlossen.

Die Abstimmung findet am Mittwoch, 16. Januar 2019, statt.

 
Aġġornata l-aħħar: 15 ta' Mejju 2019Avviż legali