Thursday

11th Aug 2022

Sarkozy wants new role for euro bank

  • Sarkozy is trailing Hollande in polls (Photo: elysee.fr)

With just a week to go until the presidential elections, French incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday (15 April) said the European Central Bank should get a new mandate on reviving economic growth - a no-go area for Germany.

“On the question of the ECB’s role in boosting growth, we French are going to open the debate,” Sarkozy told supporters in central Paris during the biggest rally of his re-election campaign to date.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He said that there must be "no taboos" in discussing the rules of the eurozone, including a more growth-oriented role for the ECB: "We cannot have taboo subjects. We cannot have banned debates.”

The Frankfurt-based ECB was a political target for Sarkozy five years ago during the 2007 presidential election campaign. Since then he has regularly spoken out in favour of a more active role by the bank in saving ailing governments in the eurozone.

This put him on collision course with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for whom the independence of the bank is sacred.

In November last year as Italy and Spain's borrowing costs rose to bail-out territory, Sarkozy and Merkel, as well as Italy's Mario Monti, agreed not to publicly discuss the ECB's role to avoid the impression that the bank is subject to political influence.

The bank soon rolled out the first half of a €1 trillion worth of cheap loans to banks, which in turn bought up Spanish and Italian bonds and drove the costs down.

But Spain's borrowing costs have started to rise again in recent weeks, despite the second half of cheap loans injected in the banking system.

Sarkozy has other concerns however. He is trailing behind Socialist challenger Francois Hollande, who is advocating pro-growth policies and wants to adjust a Germany-driven fiscal discipline treaty.

According to a TNS Sofres survey published on 13 April, Hollande would win 56 percent of the vote in the run-off scheduled for 6 May.

"Europe must cut its debts, it has no choice," Sarkozy said in Paris on Sunday. "But between deflation and growth, it has no choice either. If it chooses deflation, it will disappear."

He also hinted at some adjustments to the eurozone debt and deficit rules, as the crisis has "shown the limits" of these rules - similar territory to the Hollande camp.

Meanwhile, the Socialists contender urged supporters at a rival event to "resist euphoria" and "get out and vote."

ECB staff worried about inflation

With inflation expected to stay above two percent this year, the ECB's own staff is now reportedly worried about having no protection against a slide in the value of the euro, partly caused by the institution they are working for.

"Unfortunately the pensions of ECB staff are not protected against inflation," Carlos Bowles, a spokesman for the ECB staff told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. He added that there is a legal case at the European Court of Justice against the ECB on the matter.

But if it were to agree to an inflation-linked adjustment to pensions, the ECB would be admitting it that it could fail in its core task: protecting the eurozone against inflation.

Germany defends ECB from Sarkozy proposal

Merkel has rejected Sarkozy's idea of changing the euro bank's mandate if he gets re-elected. Denmark has also urged leaders to "stop talking" about the ECB.

Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought

Data released by the European Drought Observatory show 60 percent of Europe and the United Kingdom is currently in a state of drought, with farming, homes and industry being affected. Drought conditions have also led to an increase in wildfires.

Droughts prompt calls to cut water use amid harvest fears

With the prolonged lack of rain and high temperatures, fears have emerged over water shortages and droughts decreasing crop yields — prompting calls to use less water and reuse urban wastewater for agricultural irrigation.

Brazil pitches itself as answer to Ukraine war food shortages

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is pitching his Latin American country as the answer to the world food crisis following the war in Ukraine. The traditional wheat importer has now exported three million tonnes of the grain so far in 2022.

Opinion

Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business

From food policy to climate change, corporate lobbyists are exploiting the Ukraine crisis to try to slash legislation that gets in the way of profit. But this is only making things worse.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us