Internal Policies and EU Institutions

Buzek's speech on the occasion of the departure of Jean-Claude Trichet as President of the ECB

Frankfurt -
Wednesday 19/10/2011

"Dear Presidents, Dear Chancellors, Dear Prime Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear President Trichet, maybe not everybody knows that you first graduated as a mining and steel engineer. In my home region of Upper Silesia, this is considered to be a very respectable yet dangerous profession. But it turned out that life offered you an even more dangerous job - that of President of the European Central Bank!

When you took over the running of the ECB, the Euro was still a child. You have helped it grow into a strong currency for millions of Europeans. In January Estonia joined the euro zone. I am certain that others will follow. Without the euro, our financial crisis would be much worse and it has forced us to work together.

As President you have managed to fulfil the ECB's mandate of stable prices. Over the past ten years the average inflation rate has successfully remained within target. I congratulate you.

Dear Jean-Claude,

As an engineer by training you know very well that in ancient Greek "techne" meant discovering and looking for truth and beauty. We need to remember also those values when we are looking for technical solutions to our crisis.

Your very "technical" work has served to protect our currency and also our European values. To protect the EU against fragmentation and a much bigger crisis.

Under your leadership the ECB has taken on new tasks successfully. It has preserved its independence and was not afraid to take controversial decisions - such as your decisive action in providing liquidity to our banks in 2007 and buying bonds in 2011. This helped ease the pressure on financial markets.

As President of the European Parliament, I would also like to thank you, as President of the European Central Bank, for the working dialogue which exists between our two institutions. It shows that the community method works. We are indeed the Parliament of the euro zone, as well as the EU as a whole.

Dear Colleagues,

We have been successful as a Monetary Union. But our challenge today is to be successful as an Economic Union. We should remember that the euro was created not just as a single currency but as a common currency. A currency to unite, not to divide. A stable and strong euro is in the interest of all Member States, and indeed the whole world.

The European Parliament will be a constructive partner. We support the European Semester and the Euro Plus Pact. Answering your call for more discipline, the European Parliament helped to build new and tough rules in the so-called "six pack".

You have proposed recently that we think about a minister of finance for the Union and possible changes to the Treaty.

You raised an important issue of coherence and responsibility in our actions. We must not forget that the economic crisis began with an extraordinary and surprising downturn on the American markets in 2008. Rating agencies misled us about the state of the financial sector. It started as a crisis of confidence which sailed across the Atlantic. But let us be honest, we too in Europe were not immune or well prepared.

We must stop blaming each other, and rather - especially in the G20 - start working together to face up to this crisis. Now, and for the future. I want to assure our American friends, and whole world, that Europe is working hard to fight this crisis so that the global economy can move forward.

In this we are helped with Europe's experiences, and our history, which you are also a part of, President Trichet. It is also your way of viewing the world. When thinking about profits one must also think about values too. Wealth and responsibility must come together. While building wealth we need to preserve equal opportunity.

In Frankfurt - as in many other European and world cities we see protests of angry people: the "indignados". But it is difficult to see if they are a new social movement. But they are "indignados" because they do not see moral standards and they see market forces destroying economies. They raise many important questions, we need to listen to them, and reflect deeply on what they say.

But, I can say one thing though, Mr. President Trichet, in your legacy the "indignados" can find those values they are looking for: serious commitment to the public interest, concern towards civil society and desire to act in the common good.

Dear Jean-Claude, you helped us to keep our euro strong and you are leaving your successor, Mario Draghi, a bank ready to face new challenges. But you also helped us keep the hope that Europe will survive this crisis. We know and we hope that in the future you will continue to serve us with your advice and expertise. You deserve our praise, and our thanks."


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