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Monday, 8 February 2021 - Brussels Provisional edition

13. European Central Bank – annual report 2020 (debate)
Video of the speeches

  Presidente. – L'ordine del giorno reca la relazione di Sven Simon, a nome della commissione per i problemi economici e monetari, sulla relazione annuale 2020 della Banca centrale europea (2020/2123(INI) (A9-0002/2021).

È presente la Presidente Christine Lagarde, che ringrazio per essere qui con noi in plenaria.

Ricordo agli onorevoli deputati che per tutte le discussioni di questa tornata non è prevista la procedura "catch-the-eye", né saranno accettate domande "cartellino blu".

Inoltre, come è avvenuto durante le ultime tornate, sono previsti interventi a distanza dagli Uffici di collegamento del Parlamento negli Stati membri.

Do ora la parola al relatore Sven Simon per il suo intervento.

Ringrazio anche il Commissario Dombrovskis per essere qui con noi.


  Sven Simon, Berichterstatter. – Herr Präsident! Sehr geehrte Frau Präsidentin der Europäischen Zentralbank, meine sehr geehrten Damen und Herren! Den Zentralbanken wurde Unabhängigkeit gewährt, um Preisstabilität frei von politischer Einflussnahme sichern zu können. Das hat sich bewährt.

Auch die Europäische Zentralbank ist eine unabhängige Notenbank. Natürlich ist sie an ihr Mandat gebunden. Sie bewegt sich nicht im rechtsfreien Raum. Ihr Handeln kann von einem Gericht überprüft werden. Aber sie ist dem demokratischen Diskurs weitgehend entzogen, weil die parteipolitischen Vorstellungen eben gerade nicht ausschlaggebend für ihre Politik sein sollen, sondern ihr Mandat. Gleichwohl ist sie dem Europäischen Parlament gegenüber verantwortlich. Deshalb ist es gut, dass wir die Aussprache heute in Anwesenheit der EZB-Präsidentin Lagarde führen können.

Lassen Sie mich drei Themen aus dem Bericht aufgreifen: Erstens die Niedrigzinspolitik und die Inflationsrate, zweitens die Anleihekaufprogramme und drittens die Rolle der Europäischen Zentralbank in der Klimapolitik.

Die Niedrigzinspolitik ist ein globales Phänomen. Auswirkungen beispielsweise auf die Immobilienpreise in Ballungszentren kann und darf die EZB nicht regional betrachten. Aber wir begrüßen, dass sie die Inflationsberechnung überprüfen will, um die tatsächlichen Lebenshaltungskosten im Warenkorb künftig besser abbilden zu können.

Zu den Anleihekaufprogrammen: Mit dem PEPP ist es der Europäischen Zentralbank gelungen, dass – anders als in der Finanzkrise 2009 – in dieser Pandemie kein Mitgliedstaat von den Finanzmärkten abgeschnitten wurde. Das ist ein Erfolg der Europäischen Zentralbank. Geldpolitik alleine wird aber für eine nachhaltige wirtschaftliche Erholung nicht ausreichen. Dafür braucht es strukturelle Reformen in den Mitgliedstaaten, die sich teilweise zu stark auf der expansiven Geldpolitik der Europäischen Zentralbank ausruhen.

Das PSPP war Gegenstand von Auseinandersetzungen vor dem deutschen Bundesverfassungsgericht und dem EuGH. Meine Damen und Herren, wenn der Europäische Gerichtshof sich bei der Umsetzung dieses Urteils nur halb so konstruktiv verhalten hätte wie die Europäische Zentralbank, wäre uns manche Diskussion in Europa erspart geblieben. Die EZB hat selbst den Beweis dafür geliefert, dass eine kompetenzielle Verhältnismäßigkeitsprüfung zwischen Geldpolitik und Wirtschaftspolitik möglich und nach Auffassung der Europäischen Zentralbank auch durchgeführt worden ist.

Ganz in diesem Sinne halte ich Ihre Klarstellung, Frau Präsidentin, zur Rolle der Europäischen Zentralbank in der Klimapolitik für außerordentlich wichtig. In Ihrer Rede am 25. Januar haben Sie dazu Folgendes ausgeführt, und ich zitiere in der Originalsprache, in Englisch:

You spoke about climate change and central banking in Frankfurt and said, I quote, ‘Clearly, central banks are not the main actors when it comes to preventing global heating. Central banks are not responsible for climate policy and the most important tools that are needed lie outside of our [i.e. your, the ECB’s] mandate. But the fact that we are not in the driving seat does not mean that we can simply ignore climate change, or that we do not play a role in combating it’.

Some colleagues in this House would like to see the Central Bank as a piggy bank for their political priorities. Some colleagues expect central banks to act as a rapid response unit for every economic crisis, keep sovereign financing costs low or provide savers with adequate interest rates. Recently, another item has been added to the wish list of the left: the ECB is being called upon to assume an active role in climate policy.

But you are absolutely right, Madam President, when you say, and I quote again, ‘Most measures to tackle climate change lie outside the remit of central banks, but of course will have important implications for central bank balance sheets and policy objectives’. This is exactly the difference between what is within the mandate and what the left would like to have within the mandate. Impacts of climate change and policy transition have consequences for the primary objective of price stability. Nonetheless, the European Central Bank must not become an investment bank for climate protection. That would contradict the primary mandate of price stability. It would be illegal, despite whatever amendments the Greens propose here today.

Madame la Présidente, ce fut un plaisir extraordinaire de travailler avec vous. J’espère que nous pourrons nous revoir bientôt à Francfort, sans les contraintes liées au COVID-19.

Échanger des idées avec vous a toujours été un grand plaisir. Je vous remercie ainsi que votre équipe, en particulier M. Straub, pour cette bonne coopération dans la préparation de ce rapport. J’ai beaucoup appris sur les politiques de la BCE.


  Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank. – Monsieur le Président du Parlement européen, Monsieur le Vice-Président exécutive de la Commission européenne, Monsieur le rapporteur, honourable Members of the European Parliament, I am delighted to join you today on the occasion of this plenary debate on your draft resolution on the ECB Annual Report. I have to admit that, in spite of the circumstances being so different from a year ago, we are still here today, and it is a pleasure.

Turning to the circumstances, clearly the pandemic has confronted us with a serious health and economic crisis, and yes, the start of vaccinations provides hope. But citizens across Europe are still facing the dire social and economic consequences of the virus, and prospects about the future remain uncertain. In these circumstances, a close dialogue between the EU institutions is essential for charting a clear way forward and reaching a common European response to common challenges. This Parliament has ensured that the views of European citizens are heard and acted upon as the EU is tackling the crisis.

Parliamentary resolutions like the one we are debating today represent an important occasion for us at the ECB to reflect on how we can best deliver on our mandate for the benefit of all Europeans, and this is also the objective of our ongoing strategy review.

I have repeatedly emphasised my ambition to listen more attentively to people from across the euro area, so I am very pleased to announce today to you that we will publish the key findings from our ‘ECB Listens’ portal. This will be published today, and on this occasion I would like to thank the 4 000 Europeans who responded to our consultation and shared their concerns about inflation developments, about the current economic crisis and about the impact of climate change, as those were the key topics that they commented on.

Together – all together, including you, Mr Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis – I would like to start by just looking back at the unprecedented economic crisis that Europe experienced last year and how the ECB responded. I will then look at the prospects for this year, before discussing a few of the policy challenges that we face in ensuring a strong recovery from the pandemic and how to manage the transition to a greener and more digital economy.

So let me start with the year behind us and how I believe we responded forcefully to an unprecedented crisis. I don’t know how 2020 will be remembered by each and every one of you, but I think collectively we will remember 2020 as the year of the pandemic that led to an unprecedented economic contraction. The European institutions and the EU Member States reacted swiftly, creatively and resolutely, and the ECB, in my view, played a vital role.

Our monetary policy was centred on two pillars. First pillar: in March 2020 we launched the pandemic emergency purchase programme, also known as PEPP, with an initial envelope of EUR 750 billion. But over the course of 2020, incoming data pointed to a more pronounced impact of the pandemic on the euro area economy and a more protracted weakness in inflation than previously envisaged. So the European Central Bank’s Governing Council expanded the PEPP envelope twice, first by EUR 600 billion in June, and then by a further EUR 500 billion in December, for a total of EUR 1 850 billion.

The PEPP was tailored to the specific nature of the coronavirus crisis, and it serves a dual purpose. First, it can be operated as a powerful market backstop to prevent destabilising financial dynamics and breakdowns in monetary transmission. And second, it can act as an instrument that supports our monetary policy stance by smoothing out the impact of the pandemic on our price stability objective. These two engines have been activated with varying intensity over the two phases of the pandemic emergency. The backstop engine was the first one to be ignited, amidst the financial panic in the early stages of the pandemic. It helped preserve the transmission of our monetary policy to all sectors and countries in the euro area, thereby averting an even deeper economic contraction. That was the first engine. The second engine took over when markets eventually calmed, and it has been instrumental in nudging inflation closer to the path that we were projecting before the pandemic hit.

That was pillar number one. Pillar number two was the targeted longer-term refinancing operations, also called TLTROs. We have eased and adapted the terms and conditions of our TLTRO III programme in order to reinforce its inbuilt incentive for banks to lend to firms and to households. This makes the TLTROs a powerful complement to the PEPP, as they concentrate on the downstream phases of monetary policy transmission – those that work through banks and, more directly, reach the small and medium-sized enterprises, which are most reliant on bank financing. So those are the two pillars that were really active in the course of 2020 – and to good effect.

Let us now look at the year ahead and let’s look at what the outlook will be for our economy. As I mentioned earlier, the start of vaccination campaigns across the euro area provides the eagerly-awaited light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, the renewed surge in COVID-19 cases, the mutations of the virus and the strict containment measures are a significant downside risk to the euro area economic activity.

Output remains well below pre-pandemic levels and uncertainty about how the pandemic will evolve remains high. However, when containment measures are lifted and uncertainty recedes, we expect the recovery to be supported by favourable financing conditions, by expansionary fiscal policies and by a recovery in demand.

Despite the steep increase in January due to a confluence of factors, inflation remains low. This can be attributed to weak demand and significant slack in labour and product markets. While we expect headline inflation to increase further over the coming months, underlying price pressures are likely to remain subdued owing to weak demand, to low wage pressures and the appreciation of the euro exchange rate.

In this environment that I have just described, an accommodative monetary policy stance remains essential. It ensures that financing conditions remain favourable to put the economic recovery on a self-sustaining trajectory. Our pledge to preserve favourable financing conditions is crucial in the current environment, as it reduces uncertainty about the terms at which the economy can access external finance. This bolsters confidence and will encourage consumer spending and business investment. A more solid recovery is a precondition for re-anchoring inflation around its pre-pandemic path.

At the same time, and as I have stressed many times, including in this House, it remains crucial that monetary and fiscal policy continue to work hand in hand. Fiscal policy, both at the national and at the European level, remains crucial to bolster the recovery in the euro area and address the impact of the pandemic. It can channel economic support to where it is most needed. By protecting workers and households and providing lifelines to viable firms that have been hit hard by the pandemic, fiscal support is particularly powerful in boosting aggregate demand.

However, we need to remain vigilant. While fiscal support is crucial at this stage, it should be targeted and focused on the measures that are most conducive to economic growth. Against this backdrop, the ground-breaking Next Generation EU package should be implemented in such a way that the EU and all its Member States emerge from the crisis with stronger economic structures and a higher degree of cohesion. If implemented as planned, Next Generation EU could even boost growth as early as this year.

So let’s look at a few policies. It is essential, in our view, that the Next Generation EU funds are disbursed quickly and used to support structural reforms and growth-enhancing investment projects. This would boost growth potential and contribute to reaching the EU’s objectives in the areas of climate change and digitalisation.

We also need ambitious EU policies to make sure that bond and equity markets complement bank lending and public resources in financing a sustainable recovery. Progress in the area of sustainable finance, for instance, is pivotal to accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon economy. Efforts to deepen the Single Market, notably its digital dimension and in the services sector, would provide additional support for the recovery.

As co-legislator, the European Parliament has a crucial role to play in advancing Europe’s green and digital agendas. The ECB is ready to play its part on these two fronts, as you request in your resolution. As I was quoted (and as I am happy to repeat), central banks are not responsible for climate policy, and the most important tools that are needed lie outside its mandate. But the fact that we are not in the driving seat does not mean that we can simply ignore climate change. Climate change has macroeconomic and financial implications and consequences for our primary objective of price stability and other areas of competence.

We will contribute to fighting climate change in line with our mandate. We have already started this process and we will continue to do more. For example – and this includes most recent developments – we hold green bonds amounting to 3.5% of our own funds portfolio, and we plan to increase this share over the coming years. Since the start of this 2021, bonds with coupon structures linked to certain sustainability performance targets have been eligible as collateral for Eurosystem credit operations and for outright purchases for monetary policy purposes. This used not to be the case. Within the Eurosystem, we have also agreed on common principles for sustainable and responsible investment that we will apply when managing our euro-denominated non-monetary policy portfolios. This used not to be the case in all the euro system. We aim to start making annual climate-related disclosures for these types of portfolios within the next two years. And in the context of our strategy review, we will discuss whether sustainability considerations could be reflected in our monetary policy operations.

On the digital front, the increased use of digital technologies is changing all aspects of our lives, including how we pay. This is where our preparatory work on a digital euro comes in. I am pleased that your resolution welcomes our work in this area – public support for this project is crucial. As representatives of European citizens, you have a fundamental role to play here. Our public consultation launched since October, which is now completed, drew over 8 000 responses from individuals, firms and, of course, industry associations. We will present you with a comprehensive analysis of these responses in the spring. This analysis will provide important input for the Governing Council of the ECB when it decides whether or not to launch a digital euro project.

Let me conclude. If we want to pave the way for a sustainable recovery, we need to maintain and strengthen the common European approach that proved so effective last year. The ECB is committed to doing its part, within its mandate.

We are equally committed to continuing and building on the close dialogue with this Parliament. You are essential in our efforts to improve our communication with European citizens. This is another clear finding from the ‘ECB Listens’ portal – many respondents have asked us to explain our decisions more clearly, in simple language and with more relatable, concrete examples. But communication is a two-way street, so we will continue our efforts to listen to your requests and remarks more attentively, as summarised in this resolution. As usual, we will provide our detailed feedback on the resolution together with the ECB Annual Report 2020.

I now very much look forward to listening to your remarks and to participating in the discussion that we will have on the occasion of the final resolution on the report.


  Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, honourable Members, honourable President of the European Central Bank, it’s a pleasure to be here today to discuss with you this very timely report. I would like to thank the rapporteur, Sven Simon, and the shadow rapporteurs and members of the committee for their valuable input.

The Commission overall agrees with the report. We in particular share the view that the ECB’s independence in conducting monetary policy is vital for safeguarding price stability. Like you we are also concerned about the negative social economic impact of the pandemic. The ECB has used its monetary policy instruments successfully to mitigate those effects. We welcome the emphasis in the report on strong complementarity between fiscal and monetary policies during the crisis. Favourable financing conditions have allowed fiscal impulses to be transmitted across the euro area, and at the same time national liquidity and income support measures have reduced risks of impaired monetary policy transmission.

The Commission has supported Member States’ fiscal responses by activating the general escape clause in the Stability and Growth Pact. It will remain active this year. We will review the situation in the spring. We aim to avoid premature withdrawal of fiscal support and plan to strike the right balance between providing the necessary support to the economy and ensuring fiscal sustainability in the medium term. As of this year, the substantial financing provided by the Recovery and Resilience Facility will provide an additional input to our economies. Only the 13% pre—financing amounts to EUR 44 billion. We also need structural reforms to strengthen our growth potential and social cohesion. Next Generation EU will play a key role in making European economies more resilient and better prepared for the green and digital transitions.

In addition, the report makes significant points on climate change. We welcome the ECB’s increasing focus on climate—related risks and the specific ways that have been identified to address them, including under its supervisory and monetary policy mandates. The steps taken by the Commission and the ECB against climate change can certainly reinforce each other. I particularly welcome what Christine Lagarde just mentioned about the ECB investing part of its portfolio in green bonds. I note too that the ECB referred to objectives set out in the EU Taxonomy Regulation, in its decision to accept sustainability—linked bonds as collateral and make them potentially eligible for asset purchases.

The ECB’s preparatory work on a digital euro project is also welcome. By complementing cash, the digital euro could underpin the digitalisation of the EU economy. Taking their respective mandates into account, the Commission and the ECB are together reviewing the broad range of policy, legal and technical questions related to the possible introduction of a digital euro. It goes without saying that the European Parliament will play an important role in this process.

Lastly, the report touches on the issues of the euro’s international role. Promoting a stronger international standing for our common currency is an important element of the Commission strategy to stimulate the openness, strength and resilience of the EU’s economic and financial system. One of its objectives is to support the development of euro—denominated instruments and benchmarks.

The euro is already more attractive to investors thanks to euro—denominated bonds issued under SURE and Next Generation EU. Again, I welcome your valuable input on this report and look forward to a good debate.




  Markus Ferber, im Namen der PPE-Fraktion. – Sehr geehrter Herr Parlamentsvizepräsident, sehr geehrte Frau Präsidentin der Europäischen Zentralbank, Herr Executive Vice President, lieber Valdis Dombrovskis, liebe Kolleginnen, liebe Kollegen! In diesem Jahr nimmt die Europäische Zentralbank mit ihrer Überprüfung der geldpolitischen Strategie eine wichtige Weichenstellung vor, und ich bin sehr dankbar, dass Sie dieses Thema aufgegriffen haben.

Ein Aspekt, der bei dieser Überprüfung nicht zur Disposition steht, ist das Primärziel – und das ist auch gut so –, nämlich die Wahrung der Preisstabilität. Ich habe manchmal den Eindruck, dass das hier in Vergessenheit zu geraten scheint, und deswegen möchte ich es nochmal klarstellen: Das Primärziel der Europäischen Zentralbank, wie es in den Verträgen formuliert ist – das Sicherstellen von Preisstabilität –, ist ihre ehrenvolle und vorrangige Aufgabe. Die Geldpolitik muss dafür eingesetzt werden.

Ich frage mich aber schon, ob das Ziel, das Sie sich selber seit vielen Jahren gesetzt haben, nämlich eine Inflationsrate von nahe bei, aber knapp unter zwei Prozent immer noch das richtige Ziel ist. Immerhin verfehlen Sie dieses Ziel seit vielen Jahren mit großer Regelmäßigkeit, und die Inflationserwartungen in der Eurozone – Sie haben es ja gerade selber auch gesagt – sind mittlerweile auf einem deutlich niedrigeren Niveau verankert. Und deswegen sollte man sich schon fragen, ob dieses Inflationsziel, das ja auch als Rechtfertigung für die milliardenschweren Aufkaufprogramme benutzt wird, wirklich richtig gesetzt ist.

Immerhin gibt es mit dem demografischen Wandel, mit dem Wandel hin zur Dienstleistungsgesellschaft und mit einem weltweiten Überhang an Spareinlagen klare Indizien, dass die Inflation dauerhaft niedrig bleiben wird. Dagegen können Sie sich auch mit dem größten Aufkaufprogramm nicht stemmen. Deswegen wirklich meine Bitte, dieses Zwei-Prozent-Ziel endlich einmal einer Überprüfung zu unterziehen.

Und lassen Sie mich noch einen kurzen Satz zum Thema digitaler Euro sagen: Ich bin sehr dankbar, dass die EZB dieses Thema jetzt endlich aufgreift. Ich habe lieber einen digitalen Euro der EZB als einen von Mark Zuckerberg.


  Pedro Marques, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, Mario Draghi will always be known for saving the euro.

You and your team, Madam Lagarde, can also be part of history if you continue to do what it takes to save the European economy through this crisis.

The time we live in asks for decisive action. The European citizens deserve a response that lives up to their expectations – a swift, fair and sustainable recovery.

The truth is that the ECB has been playing a crucial role in it, while the decisions for a coordinated, mutualised fiscal response take their time to deliver. So, let me congratulate you and your team, Madam Lagarde, for having reacted to the pandemic without delay, in particular through the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), but also with targeted lending, collateral easing, among other measures. They were essential to keep the European economy afloat and this report recognises that much.

But now it’s necessary to finance the recovery. We all agree that a good part of this push can come from fiscal policy. We wish the results from the European bazooka to come soon. But monetary policy can and should still go a long way. It should also contribute to the structural objectives of the Union like well-being, employment and yes, tackling climate change, as you well pointed out, Madam Lagarde.

For starters, the support from the ECB to the economy cannot be withdrawn in the near future. On the contrary, it must be reinforced to stimulate the recovery, now and in the long run, because the faster and more durable the recovery, the less economic and social consequences for Europe, for the European project and for our citizens.

You promised to use all the tools to produce the most effective, efficient, and proportionate outcome to support the recovery. It is a statement that meets the ambition of Draghi’s ‘whatever it takes’, and this Parliament notes that and compliments you for that.

Now it’s time to deliver on that promise – whatever non-traditional measures it might take, I would add. It’s time for action.


  Engin Eroglu, im Namen der Renew-Fraktion. – Sehr geehrter Herr Präsident, sehr geehrte und sehr geschätzte Frau Lagarde, sehr geehrter Herr Dombrovskis, sehr geehrte Zuschauer an den Bildschirmen zu Hause. Der jährliche EZB-Bericht ist weiterhin sehr sensibel und sollte wissenschaftlich betrachtet und bearbeitet werden.

Die Unabhängigkeit der EZB ist die Säule unserer gemeinsamen Währung in der Europäischen Union. Der Bericht der EZB sollte kein Wunschkonzert dieses Hauses werden, denn am Ende steht unsere Währung im internationalen Wettbewerb mit anderen Währungen und auch mit Metallen. Als Kontrollorgan jedoch haben wir als Europäisches Parlament die Aufgabe, genau drauf zu schauen.

Ich freue mich, dass wir in diesem Bericht auf beiden Seiten schauen, was zu machen ist. Auf der einen Seite schauen wir kritisch auf die Target-Seite – das finde ich sehr gut und sehr richtig. Und auf der anderen Seite etwas Neues: Akzeptieren wir den Klimawandel, und findet der Klimawandel sich letztendlich auch im Mandat der EZB wieder? Worauf wir achten müssen, ist, dass die EZB nicht zur zweiten Europäischen Investitionsbank wird. Das ist unsere Aufgabe.

Auf der anderen Seite freue ich mich persönlich, dass auch „kleine Themen“ in diesem Bericht drin sind, wie der Erhalt des Bargelds, oder dass wir die Ausgrenzung des Geldes nicht verkleinern, oder dass sich auch die Generationengerechtigkeit in diesem Bericht jetzt endlich wiederfindet. Wichtig ist auch, dass ich hoffe, dass wir im Plenum den Bericht nicht durch verschiedene Anträge verschlechtern.

Ich möchte am Ende aber noch mal eine Sache sagen, die mir persönlich sehr wichtig ist und die hier langsam anfängt, im Parlament aufzukommen: Das ist die Forderung, dass Mitgliedstaaten bei der EZB die Schulden erlassen bekommen.

Frau Lagarde, ich bitte Sie mit aller Vehemenz in Ihrer Unabhängigkeit: Achten Sie darauf, dass Mitgliedstaaten die gemachten Schulden bei der EZB auch zurückzahlen. Jede Bürgerin in der Europäischen Union, jeder Bürger in der Europäischen Union muss dies auch tun.


  Francesca Donato, a nome del gruppo ID. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, signora Presidente Lagarde, il mandato della BCE, oltre all'obiettivo principale della stabilità dei prezzi, ricomprende il sostegno alle politiche economiche generali dell'Unione per contribuire alla realizzazione dei suoi obiettivi. Tra questi ci sono lo sviluppo sostenibile, la coesione territoriale e la piena occupazione.

Per sostenere la ripresa economica nell'Eurozona, lei ha saggiamente fatto appello al pieno allineamento fra le politiche fiscali e quelle monetarie. Oggi penso sia necessaria anche la complementarietà di corrette politiche sanitarie nei paesi membri, per un contrasto al COVID efficace e risolutivo. Serve un nuovo approccio incentrato sulle cure domiciliari, con protocolli chiari e aggiornati per guarire i sintomatici, sgravando il carico degli ospedali e consentendo così la riapertura di tutte le attività produttive, condizione essenziale per poter avere una ripresa economica.

Confido nel suo sostegno ai paesi che avranno il coraggio e la capacità di liberare per primi imprese e cittadini dalle costrizioni che ingabbiano lavoro e consumi. Gli obiettivi europei non possono realizzarsi in un contesto di perdurante e irrazionale terrorismo sanitario.


  Philippe Lamberts, au nom du groupe Verts/ALE. – Madame la Présidente, nous soutenons sans réserve la Banque centrale européenne dans sa volonté d’assurer quoi qu’il en coûte la viabilité de l’euro. Je veux toutefois vous interpeller ici sur deux angles morts de sa politique monétaire, sur lesquels votre prédécesseur, Mario Draghi, bottait régulièrement en touche.

Il y a tout d’abord, évidemment, les défis environnementaux, en particulier climatiques. Vos déclarations marquent une approche nouvelle en ce sens et nous vous encourageons à passer des intentions aux actes – Dieu sait s’il y a urgence.

Mais mon second point relève des inégalités: la politique de la BCE n’est pas sans impact sur elles. En déversant des milliers de milliards d’euros dans le secteur financier, elle a contribué à gonfler artificiellement les cours de bourse et les prix de l’immobilier. Les bénéficiaires en sont les détenteurs de capitaux, une minorité plutôt masculine, blanche et âgée de la population, une minorité qui s’est enrichie outrancièrement ces 30 dernières années du fait de la mondialisation, des évolutions technologiques et de l’avènement d’entreprises too big to fail et, ne l’oublions pas, de la fraude et de l’évasion fiscales – comme nous le rappellent les révélations de ce matin sur le Luxembourg.

Quant aux jeunes et aux bas revenus, ils subissent l’austérité face à un horizon bouché. Bien que les taux d’intérêt aient baissé, ils sont aujourd’hui obligés de s’endetter deux fois plus et plus longtemps s’ils veulent accéder au logement.

Madame Lagarde, il n’y a pas qu’une seule manière de mener une politique monétaire ambitieuse. Aussi, la Banque centrale européenne doit non seulement éviter que ses choix aggravent la fracture sociale, mais elle doit surtout prendre sa part dans sa réduction en limitant la capacité de la finance à extraire une rente toujours plus indécente de la société.

Madame Lagarde, Madame la Présidente, notre impact écologique, d’une part, et la précarité et l’exclusion, de l’autre, sont deux bombes à retardement dont l’explosion serait fatale à nos sociétés. S’il est plus que temps que les élus prennent leurs responsabilités, la Banque centrale ne peut éluder les siennes. Nous comptons sur vous.


  Johan Van Overtveldt, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, I would like to thank Ms Lagarde and Mr Dombrovskis for being here. In the context of the report we are discussing today, I would like to make four remarks and, of course, ask them some related questions.

First of all, I think it’s more than fair to say that, given the circumstances that have fallen upon us, we are still in a very unusual situation with respect to the stance of monetary policy, with huge balance sheets increasing further by the day and negative nominal policy rates. A return to a more normal policy stance is, of course, not for tomorrow, not for next week, and probably not for next month either, but I think it would be good to be more explicit about the signposts that the path to normality will be.

Secondly, we see today unmistakeable signs of major bubbles in equity markets and other financial markets, all more or less linked to what I would call the overabundance of liquidity. These bubbles are a constant threat to financial stability, and by now we all know that financial stability is, of course, closely linked to price stability: the major objective of monetary policy in the euro area. I think it’s time to rethink the stance of monetary policy by taking these elements – bubbles, financial stability dangers – more explicitly into consideration.

Thirdly, Thomas Piketty and 150 other economists have called, very recently, for the cancellation of government debt by the ECB. I would be inclined to ask whether you share that opinion, but I think that is a superfluous question. But do you think the ECB statutes allow for such an action?

Fourthly, when a government crisis looms in a highly indebted country within the euro area, it always tends to make financial markets more nervous overnight, which – overnight – also tends to lead to increasing spreads. My question is: does the ECB consequently stand ready to intervene in such circumstances in order to keep these spreads down?


  Δημήτριος Παπαδημούλης, εξ ονόματος της ομάδας The Left. – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κυρία Lagarde, κύριε Dombrovskis, είναι θετικά τα βήματα της δημιουργίας του Ταμείου Ανάκαμψης και το έκτακτο πρόγραμμα αγοράς ενεργητικού της Ευρωπαϊκής Κεντρικής Τράπεζας. Αλλά η ένταση της κρίσης, η διάρκεια της πανδημίας, το μέγεθος της ύφεσης και η μεγάλη αύξηση του δημόσιου χρέους, που φτάνει πάνω από το 100 % του ευρωπαϊκού ΑΕΠ στην ευρωζώνη, δείχνουν με αριθμούς ότι τα βήματα αυτά είναι ανεπαρκή. Χρειαζόμαστε περισσότερα μέτρα. Κυρία Lagarde, πρέπει να κάνετε ό,τι χρειαστεί, σε συνεργασία με την Επιτροπή, για να μη βυθιστεί η ευρωζώνη σε μια κρίση χρέους και για να μη γνωρίσει η ευρωπαϊκή οικονομία μια μεγάλη υπαρξιακή κρίση. Γι’ αυτό, πρέπει να σκεφτείτε —όπως είπατε, κυρία Lagarde, πέρυσι τον Μάρτιο— «out of the box» και όχι βάσει του «business as usual». Χρειάζεται μια ευρωπαϊκή λύση για την ελάφρυνση του χρέους ή και για τη διαγραφή του κορονο-χρέους που δημιούργησε η πανδημία. Το πρότειναν 100 οικονομολόγοι με πολύ βαριά ονόματα. Γιατί σπεύσατε να το απορρίψετε ως αδιανόητο; Πρέπει, επίσης, να αναστείλουμε το Σύμφωνο Σταθερότητας έως και το 2023 και να κάνουμε ένα ρεαλιστικότερο σύμφωνο βιώσιμης ανάπτυξης. Επίσης, και το θετικό βήμα του Ταμείου Ανάκαμψης, που το εγκρίνουμε αύριο, νομίζω ότι χρειάζεται μεγαλύτερη δύναμη πυρός: έναν διπλασιασμό των κονδυλίων από τα 750 δισεκατομμύρια στο 1,5 τρισεκατομμύριο ευρώ.


  Dorien Rookmaker (NI). – Voorzitter, de COVID-crisis heeft één ding duidelijk gemaakt: we kunnen niet zonder goed risicomanagement. Risicomanagement stelt ons in staat om te anticiperen op de toekomst. Integraal risicomanagement helpt ons om voorbereid te zijn.

In 1995 werden we gewaarschuwd dat het risico op een pandemie significant was verhoogd als gevolg van globalisering, urbanisatie en exploitatie van de natuurlijke omgeving. In 2003 kwam het Institute of Medicine met een aanvullende waarschuwing. De vraag was niet meer of er een pandemie zou komen, maar wanneer. In 2017 waarschuwde de Wereldbank opnieuw. Maar in het jaarverslag van 2019 van de ECB is niets te vinden over het risico op een pandemie. Het totale risiconiveau werd zelfs lager ingeschat dan in 2018.

De ECB zou als Europa’s meest prominente financiële instelling in staat moeten zijn om de belangrijkste risico’s te identificeren en te modelleren. Kijkend naar de situatie waarin we ons nu bevinden, vraag ik mij af: hoe degelijk zit het risicomanagement van de ECB in elkaar? Of is het tijd voor een grondige herziening?


  Βαγγέλης Μεϊμαράκης (PPE). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, η Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα, από την ίδρυσή της μέχρι και σήμερα, δεν έχει ποτέ κληθεί να αντιμετωπίσει μια τέτοια πρωτοφανή κρίση σε υγειονομικό, κοινωνικό και πολιτικό επίπεδο, η οποία επηρεάζει συμμετρικά όλες τις εθνικές οικονομίες της ευρωζώνης. Η πανδημία και η ολιστική επίδρασή της σε όλους τους τομείς της οικονομίας ανάγκασαν τα κράτη μέλη να προσαρμόσουν τη δημοσιονομική πολιτική τους και να κάνουν τους προϋπολογισμούς τους πιο δυναμικούς αλλά και —τελικά— να συμφωνήσουν στο ιστορικό Ταμείο Ανάκαμψης ώστε να μπορέσουν να διασφαλίσουν ότι την επόμενη ημέρα η Ευρώπη θα μπορεί να επιχειρεί, να καινοτομεί και να αναπτύσσεται.

Σε αυτή, λοιπόν, την πρωτοφανή κρίση, η Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα στάθηκε στο ύψος των περιστάσεων και ανταποκρίθηκε δεόντως με γρήγορες και δραστικές πρωτοβουλίες, τις οποίες και χαιρετήσαμε, κυρία Lagarde, και οι οποίες έδωσαν την απαραίτητη ρευστότητα στα κράτη μέλη προκειμένου να στηρίξουν τις οικονομίες τους και ιδιαίτερα τους αδύναμους, τους μικρομεσαίους και τις θέσεις εργασίας. Η επόμενη ημέρα της πανδημίας φέρνει την Ευρώπη αντιμέτωπη με πολυάριθμες προκλήσεις. Η τέταρτη βιομηχανική επανάσταση με την πλήρη μετάβαση στην ψηφιακή εποχή, η πράσινη ανάπτυξη και οι βεβαρημένοι κρατικοί προϋπολογισμοί καλούν τώρα την Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα να προσδιορίσει τον ρόλο της και να σταθεί στο ύψος των περιστάσεων, προκειμένου όχι μόνο να είναι ένα εργαλείο σταθεροποίησης αλλά και να σταθεί στο πλευρό των κρατών μελών της ευρωζώνης για την επιτυχή μετάβασή τους στη νέα αυτή εποχή.


  Jonás Fernández (S&D). – Señor presidente, señor vicepresidente, señora presidenta del BCE, decía usted en su introducción inicial que la inflación continuaba demasiado baja en la zona del euro, y aprovechaba esa frase el portavoz del Grupo popular, Markus Ferber, para invitarla a dejar de insistir en cumplir con los Tratados. Le decía que, en la medida en que sus esfuerzos hasta ahora no estaban siendo positivos, no estaban siendo fructíferos, debía usted arrojar la toalla, no cumplir los Tratados europeos, no cumplir la regulación por la cual usted se rige.

Y la respuesta del Grupo socialista no puede ser otra que pedirle que haga algo más y ayudarla e incentivarla para que haga un poquito más en política monetaria y consiga llevar la inflación al objetivo.

Y decía también el diputado del Grupo Popular que los cambios demográficos, la globalización o los cambios tecnológicos hacían caer el tipo de interés natural y que, por lo tanto, la revisión estratégica de su mandato quizá debiera revisar el objetivo de inflación. Pues bien, para que el BCE siga siendo una institución útil para la zona del euro, mi Grupo espera que el camino que ustedes lleven en esa revisión del marco estratégico sea exactamente el contrario.


  Luis Garicano (Renew). – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur Dombrovskis, Madame Lagarde, Madame la Présidente, ce week-end, vous avez répondu à ceux qui voudraient annuler la dette des États détenue par la BCE. Votre argument prend comme point de départ l'illégalité de cette mesure, et vous avez raison. Mais je trouve que l’argument légal est faible, car si l’annulation de la dette avait du sens du point de vue économique, alors je serais le premier à demander un changement du cadre légal. Mais ce n'est pas le cas.

Il me semblait plus fort de pointer l'absence d'intérêt économique de l’annulation de la dette. L'annulation de la dette est un jeu d’écritures comptables dont le bénéfice est nul parce que nos États sont les copropriétaires de la BCE, mais c'est un petit jeu qui a des coûts importants: des coûts pour l'efficacité de la politique monétaire, un coût pour la crédibilité de la BCE, un coût pour le financement des États à long terme. Le simple fait d’ouvrir ce débat donne des ailes aux faucons de la politique monétaire, alors que nous sommes tous ici en soutien total des décisions que vous avez prises au cours de la pandémie. Je profite de cette tribune pour vous renouveler notre soutien.


  France Jamet (ID). – Monsieur le Président, Madame Lagarde, merci de cette présentation. Nous sommes heureux de constater que la Banque centrale a voulu prendre sa part dans le soutien des économies durement frappées par la crise du COVID-19 et par l’incapacité de l’Union à fermer ses frontières. Mais votre état des lieux me conduit à vous poser trois questions.

Vous avez rappelé l’objectif de 2 % d’inflation que vous poursuivez. Nous constatons l’écart qui se creuse depuis tant d’années entre les prix à la consommation, les salaires et le prix des actifs financiers, comme les actions, et celui de l’immobilier. Ne convient-t-il pas de réviser la base du calcul de l’inflation pour y intégrer des éléments du prix des actifs?

Vous avez aussi fait part de votre choix d’engager la BCE à intégrer dans ses interventions des critères écologiques, notamment de lutte contre le changement climatique. De tels critères engageraient la BCE dans une dépendance nouvelle à l’égard d’organisations non étatiques qui se sont emparées du sujet de l’écologie. Nous redoutons pour les indépendants et les PME, mais aussi pour les banques, les effets d’une taxonomie arbitraire et totalitaire. Vos choix ne conduisent-t-ils pas la BCE à sortir de sa mission et à subir une nouvelle dépendance?

Enfin, vous avez évoqué le sujet de la monnaie digitale. Nous constatons tous l’accélération considérable du mouvement des cryptomonnaies depuis quelques mois. Ainsi, la plateforme chinoise Binance traite aujourd’hui un volume de transactions supérieures à tout Euronext et vaut plus que toutes les banques françaises réunies. Ne convient-t-il pas de se hâter lentement pour proposer aux Européens un système crédible et stable, quand le paysage numérique se sera éclairci?


  Sven Giegold (Verts/ALE). – Herr Präsident! Frau Präsidentin Lagarde, vielen Dank, dass Sie wieder hier mit uns – wie jedes Jahr – diskutieren.

Wir haben es in diesem Bericht wieder geschafft, klar zu sagen: Die EZB soll im Rahmen ihres Mandats tun, was möglich ist, um auch Klimarisiken in ihren Geschäften entsprechend zu berücksichtigen.

Bisher tun Sie das bei Ihren wichtigen Refinanzierungsgeschäften, die Hunderte von Milliarden schwer sind, nicht. Die großen Ratingagenturen, auf deren Noten Sie sich dabei verlassen, bewerten weiterhin auch klimaschädliche Unternehmen – wie z. B. Chevron, Shell, Exxon, Total – mit sehr guten Noten, und darauf basierend können Banken bei Ihnen an frisches Geld kommen.

Deshalb – unsere Bitte ist ganz klar: Verlassen Sie sich nicht mehr einseitig auf dieses Oligopol und ihre Ignoranz gegenüber dem Klimaschutz, sondern sorgen Sie dafür, dass langfristige Klimarisiken bei Ihren Refinanzierungsgeschäften genauso wie auch bei der Bankenaufsicht umfassend berücksichtigt werden.


  Derk Jan Eppink (ECR). – Voorzitter, mevrouw Lagarde, uw mandaat is prijsstabiliteit, maar u rekt het steeds verder op. Klimaat ziet u ook als deel van uw mandaat, zie de groene obligaties. Corona ook: u reageerde met een enorm opkoopprogramma genaamd PEPP, een waar “pepmiddel”. Maar waar gaat dat heen?

Intussen is de ECB-balans door het aankoopbeleid gezwollen tot 70 % van het bbp van de eurozone. In Amerika is dat 35 %. In Japan zelfs 130 %. Een economie met hoge schulden die enkel stagneert: wilt u die kant op?

Uw echte motief is volgens mij: met lage renteverschillen de staatsschuld van Europese landen met hoge schulden betaalbaar houden. Maar de rekening legt u neer bij spaarders en gepensioneerden, zoals in Nederland. Zij worden uitgemolken. Zij voelen zich geslachtofferd voor de spilzucht elders in Europa, waar men al spreekt over schuldenkwijtschelding. Het probleem van het eurosysteem, mevrouw Lagarde, is – en het is vervelend dat ik dat moet zeggen – de euro zélf. Dat is het drama waar wij in Europa mee leven.


  Fabio Massimo Castaldo (NI). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, Presidente Lagarde, il 2021 potrà senz'altro essere ricordato come l'anno in cui la BCE ha deciso di essere, pienamente e veramente, una Banca centrale. Abbiamo i tassi più bassi della storia, le banche possono contare su finanziamenti a tassi negativi per aumentare i prestiti a imprese e famiglie, mentre gli acquisti di asset da 1 850 miliardi di euro sono stati efficaci nel compensare gli effetti negativi della pandemia.

Ora è tempo di andare oltre. Il 2021 è l'anno della tanto attesa ridefinizione della strategia di politica monetaria della BCE. Inflazione, condizioni finanziarie, stabilità dei mercati, cambiamenti climatici e digitalizzazione: sono queste le grandi sfide a cui ci aspettiamo una risposta. Ma non si potrà fare tutto questo facendo finta di non vedere l'elefante nella stanza, cioè l'enorme debito contratto da tutti i paesi membri per far fronte alle esigenze della crisi pandemica.

L'avevo umilmente già proposto e lo hanno autorevolmente ribadito oltre 100 illustri economisti europei in una lettera: cancelliamo il debito pubblico detenuto dalla BCE e offriamo così agli Stati europei i mezzi per una loro ricostruzione, sostenibile e inclusiva. Se non ora, quando?


  Evelyn Regner (S&D). – Mr President, the ECB undertook rapid and major efforts to dampen the disastrous effects of the pandemic on our economy. What we see now is that the ECB was partially successful and, that said, we are all aware of the impact that monetary policy has on our economic system.

I would like to draw attention to the fact that monetary policy itself is not neutral towards specific issues. Especially one: gender equality. Now is exactly the time to ensure that women are supported extensively, as they are disproportionately more affected by the crisis than men. That is why more diversity is essential on the executive floor. We need more women on the ECB’s Executive Board. Having people from different backgrounds leads to a more creative and better way of tackling problems, benefitting our society as a whole. I am convinced that a gender-balanced Board must be possible in the 21st century.


  Billy Kelleher (Renew). – Mr President, President Lagarde, Vice-President Dombrovskis, just to say at the outset, I very much welcome this report and I also welcome the rapid response of the ECB, in terms of its monetary policy during the pandemic itself, and certainly the PEPP purchasing programme was very, very welcome. It added confidence, I think, to markets across the globe, and it certainly added confidence to the eurozone itself.

Of course, there are significant challenges downstream of where we are now, Madam Lagarde, in terms of the public debt that is being piled onto sovereigns across the entire European Union, and that is going to be a significant challenge in the years ahead.

So what I’m saying is, we do need to ensure that the monetary policy of the ECB mirrors that, and hopefully that of Member States, in terms of their fiscal policy, because there will be significant pressures in terms of sovereigns trying to refinance huge sums of public debt in the years ahead if we don’t have a seamless unwinding from the Pandemic Emergency Purchasing Programme and also from the European Union, particularly the Stability and Growth Pact, if that is reintroduced.

So I would like that particular issue to be taken on board and looked at.


  Gunnar Beck (ID). – Herr Präsident, Madame Lagarde, dieser Bericht warnt zu Recht vor Immobilienblasen und TARGET2-Risiken. Doch die Kritik ist sparsam, groß aber verfehltes Lob. Größer aber noch ist die Not. Der Euro ist eine Missgeburt, ein Minotaurus, den die Bundesbank mit jährlich 100 Milliarden Euro unbesicherten TARGET2-Krediten befriedet und befriedigt – bislang insgesamt 1,2 Billionen Euro. Immobilien werden unbezahlbar, Löhne sinken, Steuern und Schulden steigen, nur Reiche werden reicher.

Seit 2015 druckt die EZB mehr Geld als irgendeine Notenbank irgendwann, irgendwo. Doch das Wachstum ist geringer als fast irgendwo sonst. Seit COVID schrumpft die EU-Wirtschaft schneller noch als die EZB druckt. Und wohin fließt die EZB-Geldschwemme? Nicht in Realwirtschaft, private Haushalte oder Zukunftsbranchen, sondern in sterile Anlagegüter für Superreiche und billionenteure Traumtänzereien wie Euro, Klimarettung und Zuwanderung.

Zins ist der Preis für Zeit. Negativzins zeigt: Europa hat so keine Zukunft mehr außer als Oligarchie.


  Bas Eickhout (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, thank you very much, President Lagarde, for referring to the ECB strategy review and also by including climate change in that. But I would like to pick up where you said that you are going to look at sustainability considerations, how they can also be reflected in the monetary policy instruments, as you said, and I would like to pick on that a bit, because I would almost say: what is still the discussion? First of all, some people say: well, the ECB needs to be market neutral. But I can’t find that anywhere in the Treaties, so market neutrality should not and could not be an argument. Price stability is. And as we see more and more studies, climate change is affecting price stability, so you need to do something about price stability. Furthermore, by continuing the current asset purchasing programmes, you are supporting the past – the fossil past – and you’re going against climate neutrality, which has a very clear democratic mandate that we have to work towards. So my question is very simple: are you going to stop buying bonds that perpetuate carbon-intense economic activities? And are you going to embrace proposals for Green TLTROs, because that is actually required to really have a green agenda.


  Henrike Hahn (Verts/ALE). – Herr Präsident, Frau Lagarde, Herr Dombrovskis! Die Europäische Zentralbank muss Klimarisiken und Klimaziele in ihre geldpolitischen Entscheidungen mit einbeziehen, und zwar gerade, weil Preisstabilität ihr oberstes Ziel ist und der Klimawandel ausdrücklich Einfluss darauf hat.

Wir wissen, der Klimawandel beeinflusst die Realwirtschaft und zunehmend auch die Bilanzen der Banken auf dem Weg zu einer nachhaltigen Wirtschaft. Wir brauchen Hilfsprogramme der EZB, die klug und zukunftsorientiert sind. Und wenn die EZB durch ihre Anleihenkäufe Betreiber von Kohlekraftwerken unterstützt, dann steht das klar gegen unsere Pariser Klimaziele.

Die EZB soll auch prüfen, wie wir die internationale Rolle des Euro stärken können – für wirtschaftliche Souveränität Europas und mehr Unabhängigkeit von globalen Entwicklungen. Madame Lagarde, ich setze außerdem darauf, dass viele, viele kluge Frauen wie Sie schnellstmöglich mindestens die Hälfte der wichtigen Positionen im EZB-Direktorium, in der EU-Finanzaufsicht und in den Zentralbanken besetzen.


  Claude Gruffat (Verts/ALE). – Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Vice-président, Madame Lagarde, chers collègues, la BCE détient près de 3 800 milliards d'euros d'actifs issus des différents programmes de rachat de dette qui sont de puissants soutiens à l'économie carbonée. Sur les 242 milliards d'euros d'actifs privés détenus par la BCE, 63 % sont bruns alors que les secteurs soutenus ne représentent que 10 % des emplois et 20 % de l'activité en Europe.

Madame Lagarde, la politique monétaire et les actifs détenus par la BCE ont un impact énorme sur le quotidien des citoyennes et des citoyens. Pour répondre aux enjeux du moment, votre action devrait in fine favoriser plus d'emplois européens et moins de carbone. Des pans entiers de l'économie réelle n'attendent que cela pour essaimer et bâtir l'Union européenne de demain: plus territorialisée, plus juste, plus écologique.

Vous avez annoncé récemment la création au sein de votre institution d'un centre d'expertise sur le changement climatique. J'espère que ce sera enfin l'opportunité d'agir. D'où cette question, en paraphrasant votre entretien d'hier: quand allez-vous enfin mettre en cohérence votre rôle et la feuille de route climatique de l'Union? Voilà le sujet essentiel aujourd'hui.


  Marie Toussaint (Verts/ALE). – Monsieur le Président, Madame la Présidente, chers collègues, parlons clair. Si vos propositions sont bienvenues, elles restent insuffisantes parce qu’elles ne changent en effet pas de logique. Crise écologique, crise sociale et économique sont liées. C’est une crise systémique que nous vivons. Il faut en tirer les conséquences plutôt que de faire perdurer la logique qui nous a conduits dans le mur.

Une partie des dettes publiques devrait être annulée au profit du financement de la transition écologique. Mais vous balayez d’un revers de main cette proposition qui permettrait de mobiliser jusqu’à 2 500 milliards d’euros au motif que ce serait illégal, ce que ne disent pas les traités.

Par ailleurs, au nom de la neutralité du marché, vous persistez à financer, à travers vos programmes d’achats, des activités climaticides, dont les énergies fossiles. Cela doit cesser. Chaque euro dépensé dans cette voie est un euro funeste. Ayons l’audace d’intégrer la sauvegarde du climat dans le mandat de la BCE. C’est d’ailleurs une urgence pour préserver les banques elles-mêmes du risque prudentiel, et donc aussi social, constitué par le dérèglement climatique.

Si vous ne vous occupez pas du climat, le climat vous rattrapera. La neutralité carbone doit désormais guider l’ensemble de vos actions.


  Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, Madam President, honourable Members, well, first of all, thank you for today’s debate. I think it has shown a degree of convergence of views on most of the aspects of the report.

The Commission believes that the ECB’s accountability towards the European Parliament is an essential element of the European governance system and an important condition for its independence. The ex-post assessment of ECB activities by the European Parliament is an important part of the ECB’s democratic accountability.

I look forward to continued dialogue and close cooperation among our three institutions. This is vital in order for the euro area to function smoothly and properly.

In recent months, it has been instrumental in designing an appropriate policy response to the crisis and laying the foundations for a solid sustainable recovery.

In this spirit, I look forward to tomorrow’s plenary debate on the Recovery and Resilience Facility. It is in the interest of all Europeans to put the agreement we reached in December into effect as soon as possible.


  Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank. – Mr President, let me first thank Mr Simon and all his colleagues for the draft resolution.

I would also like to thank the Commission, you, Mr Dombrovskis, for your support for the great cooperation that we have on so many of the issues that we both tackled.

Let me also thank each and every one of you for your questions, for your comments, for your views. I’ve taken due note of it. I’m not necessarily going to respond to each and every one of your points or your questions because it would take us way into the night and I’m not sure that we want to do that. But I will try to tackle quickly some of the issues because I think that they are critically important for our mandate, and they are also relevant for our cooperation.

I’m not going to touch on the economic outlook. I think that not many of you actually raised the issue and I think that we know quite well what the prospects are, and I’ve touched on that in my opening remarks.

I would like to come back to one item which is clearly related to the output and the composition of that output, and that is inflation, which was touched on by some of you. I’ll start with reiterating what I was nicely reminded of, which is that price stability is the mandate of the ECB. There is no question in our minds, and certainly no question in my mind, that this is the case. But I would like to turn to inflation a bit because it is a matter that has been changing recently and I would like to come back to that.

As we saw in January, headline inflation increased after having been in negative territory for almost half a year in 2020. This swing was partly expected. According to Eurostat’s flash estimates, Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) inflation increased to +0.9% in January, after having been at -0.3% in December and before. That swing reflects, to a considerable extent, the increase in energy inflation due to upward base effects and the recent oil increases. In particular, it reflects the reversal of the temporary VAT rates in Germany, and the change in the HICP weight that always takes place at the start of the year, and which now reflects the consumption structure of 2020, which, under the impact of the Covid pandemic has changed, compared to that of 2019.

Headline inflation is expected to gradually increase further in the coming months, and this will largely be due to base effects in energy inflation, as the drops in oil prices in early 2020 will fade away from the annual growth rates. In the near term, domestic price pressures will remain subdued, though, owing to factors that I have mentioned, which are weak demand, increasing labour market slack, euro exchange rate appreciation and softer wage pressures.

It is because of those factors, which clearly imply negative pressure on prices, that we believe that in order to reach the price stability that has been defined back in 2003 as close to below 2%. It is for that reason that we believe that ample monetary stimulus remains essential to preserve favourable financing conditions over the pandemic period for all sectors of the economy. This will help to reduce uncertainty and support confidence, encourage consumer spending and investment and ultimately underpin economic activity and safeguard medium-term price stability. So you see, price stability is clearly right and centre in our considerations when we decide our monetary policies on a regular basis.

I would like to touch on a couple more issues which you have mentioned that have to do with the link between fiscal and monetary, and I would like to just come back to the European response to the crisis that you actually address in your resolution, Mr Rapporteur.

First of all, I would like to emphasise that the national fiscal responses have been crucial so far. They helped secure employment, prevent a rise in structural unemployment and safeguard the survival of firms. Indeed, it’s the e contrario reasoning that has to apply, and the counterfactuals are always difficult to demonstrate, but there is no uncertainty in our mind that this has been critical for those three purposes. But more will be needed as another pandemic wave sweeps across Europe still and delays recovery. An ambitious and coordinated fiscal stance remains critical in view of the sharp contraction of the euro-area economy and this support will continue to be needed in order to avoid the cliff effects and not leave anyone behind.

Now, as I said, as much as possible those fiscal measures should be targeted and should be temporary in nature and be mindful of medium-term fiscal sustainability. The longer fiscal support prevails, the more the quality of this measure is of the essence. Needless to say, Next Generation EU, once duly ratified by all 27 members and properly rolled out, will support fiscal recovery and will be an important ingredient in the strategy going forward, but it must become operational without delay. For this, it is critical that Member States channel European funds into much needed reforms and investment, including in the areas of climate change and digitalisation.

Finally, we need to reflect on the lessons of the Recovery and Resilience Facility for the fiscal architecture in the medium term. With Next Generation EU, for the first time ever, Europe has put in place a common counter cyclical budget. It can also contribute to making EU economies structurally stronger, thereby reducing the divergences in growth and income. We will also need to reflect on a future reform of the Stability and Growth Pact going forward.

Now let me say a few words about our strategy review. Some of you have mentioned it and, as you know, there are quite a few items that will be on our list of investigation as far as this review is concerned. As you know, we decided to extend the timeline, because of the pandemic, but now we’re back in full swing and moving fast. We expect to conclude the review in the second half of 2021. In several topical sessions so far, we have discussed inflation, inflation measurements, fiscal policies, price-stability objectives and monetary policy instruments, with all members of the Governing Council. More sessions are planned in the coming months and we are still in the general mode of listening, discussing, reflecting. Since all review-related issues are strongly interdependent, it is premature at present to draw any conclusions and to present them.

We also involve external parties in some parts and stages of the process and I will ensure the involvement of this Parliament throughout the review process, as part of my regular exchanges with the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), and also in the context of dedicated visits to the ECB.

I would like to finish with some key points on climate change, which some of you have mentioned. I think it is important and I know that it’s not music to everyone’s ears, but it is the reality. The primary responsibility to address climate change lies with governments, who have the most important tools at hand. I’m convinced that we need to see faster progress along three interlocking dimensions: including, informing, innovating. Those are my three Is that I significantly expanded upon in a previous speech – I will not bother you with that – but what I mean by that is that we need to include the true social and environmental cost of carbon into the prices paid by all sectors of the economy. I know that Parliament is working hard on that.

We also need to get greater information on the exposure of individual companies in order to make sure that climate risks are adequately priced. Lastly, we need to see substantial green innovation and investment. Both, however, require a complex ecosystem of which finance is a key element. The EU must make progress to consolidate its leading role in sustainable finance. Green bond issuance by euro-area residents has grown sevenfold since 2015, reaching 75 billion in 2020. Funding for green innovation must also come from other market segments. Recent analysis points to the beneficial role of equity investors – research by the ECB, I have to say.

Completing the capital markets union should provide a further push to support equity based green finance by fostering deep and liquid capital markets across Europe. The fact that central banks are not responsible directly for climate policy does not mean that we can ignore climate change or that we do not play any role in combating it. Climate change is, in my view, very relevant to the ECB mission. The scale and the irreversibility of its consequences calls for not medium- or long-term action, but for immediate action from all actors, each within their competence, each within their mandate.

The material effect of climate change as well as the acceleration of the transition have macroeconomic and financial implications. They have consequences for price stability (our mandate), for financial stability and banking supervision (also a responsibility of the ECB), as well as for the euro system’s own balance sheet. We are aware of these consequences and determined to mitigate and adapt to them. The ECB is thus reflecting on the emerging risks related to climate change in the pursuit of its treaty tasks.

We are assessing those issues in the context of our ongoing strategy review. We are, in particular, considering how environmental sustainability considerations can be relevant in pursuing ECB policies not applied only to the non-monetary policy portfolios, but way beyond that. So, there will be more to come as we progress in our strategy review and, I hope, for the better of generations to come. With that, Mr Vice-President, I thank you very much for your patience with me and for your hospitality.


  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Tuesday, 9 February 2021.

Written statements (Rule 171)


  Carlos Zorrinho (S&D), por escrito. – O Banco Central Europeu (BCE) foi chamado em 2020 a desempenhar ainda com mais exigência o seu papel de estabilização dos preços, impulso às políticas europeias de resposta à crise pandémica, e apoio ao financiamento das respostas, em linha com as prioridades da proteção do emprego e do desenvolvimento sustentável. A resposta rápida e substantiva na disponibilização de recursos monetários manteve o equilíbrio nos mercados financeiros e permitiu aos Estados membros desenharem e aplicarem planos de emergência essenciais para proteger a economia e o tecido social. É fundamental que esta política continue, com foco na economia real e sem que a pressão sobre as regras orçamentais ou sobre a gestão da dívida se torne numa restrição à capacidade de resposta aos impactos sanitários, económicos e sociais da pandemia. Em 2020 o BCE contribuiu para sustentar um ambiente favorável ao investimento. É importante que prossiga políticas monetárias que estimulem o crescimento e o emprego, incluindo um ajustamento das suas prioridades às prioridades de sustentabilidade da União Europeia. Um acordo interinstitucional entre o BCE e o Parlamento Europeu, cuja negociação se está a iniciar, permitirá melhorar a prestação de contas da atividade do BCE perante os representantes eleitos dos Estados Membros.

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