13th Jul 2020

Thousands protest outside ECB's new headquarters

  • Burnt out car at ECB protests (Photo: jluster)

Thousands of protestors demonstrated in front of the European Central Bank's (ECB) new headquarters in Frankfurt Wednesday (18 March), but the bank's chief said it ins’t "not fair" to blame it for austerity policies undertaken by governments.

"As an EU institution that has played a central role throughout the crisis, the ECB has become a focal point for those frustrated with this situation. This may not be a fair charge - our action has been aimed precisely at cushioning the shocks suffered by the economy," said Mario Draghi at the inauguration ceremony for the €1.3 billion premises.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

  • German police in action in Frankfurt (Photo: jluster)

"Solidarity is central to European integration and it is right that countries have supported each other during the crisis. But the euro area is not a political union of the sort where some countries permanently pay for others."

He noted that the 19 euro countries must be able to "stand on their own two feet" and are "responsible" for their policies.

Outside the building, which has housed ECB staff for four months already, thousands protested against the bank's and Germany's eurozone policies.

“In the past, we protested against things like the rescue of the banks in Europe," said Werner Renz, a representative of protest group Attac, according to Reuters.

"The focus of our protests this year is on Greece. We need more of Athens in Europe and less of Berlin. There is no way Greece can repay all its debt. The situation can't be solved by austerity alone."

Greece's radical-left government, in power since January, has been trying to reach a deal with its eurozone partners on what reforms it needs to make in order to get the next tranche of bailout money.

It came to power on the back of election promises to stop austerity - but its creditors have refused to release money until Athens commits to certain reforms.

Greek banks lenders have been cut off from regular ECB finance lines and are taking emergency credit from the country's central bank.

Finance minister Yanis Varafakis has characterised the bank's approach to Greece as "asphyxiating".

Draghi, for his part, recently launched a €1.1 trillion plan to boost inflation and the economy and was credited with taking the heat of out of the eurozone crisis in 2012 with this “whatever it takes” promise to save the euro.

In return he has repeatedly asked eurozone governments to undertake structural reforms, saying fiscal or monetary stimulus will not be enough to revive the economy.

In his speech on Wednesday, Draghi said that the more economic decision-making powers move to EU level, the more democracy must move too.

"Making policy without adequate representation and accountability does not work. So we need to deepen our economic union and our political union together," he said, referring to the European Parliament.

"Inevitably European democracy will be different," he said but added he was certain that "in giving up some formal sovereignty, people will gain in effective sovereignty".

The ECB will contribute to a paper on deepening economic and monetary union to be presented at an EU leaders summit in June.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who is leading the further-integration debate, recently said the report was "essential" as the outside world does not know where the eurozone is heading.

Rule-of-law row complicates budget talks

Disagreements are running deep between EU leaders over the overall size of the budget and recovery package, the criteria and mode of distribution and the conditions, with rule of law "another battle ground opening up".

News in Brief

  1. Croatia opens for US tourists, defying EU ban
  2. Poll: only 61% of Germans would get Covid-19 vaccine
  3. UK to spend €788m on new UK-EU border control system
  4. Berlin wants first use of EU cyber sanctions on Russia
  5. Erdogan warns neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves
  6. Bulgaria: political crisis amid anti-corruption protests
  7. Pope and Turkish-German leader join Hagia Sophia protest
  8. France and UK create joint migrant intelligence unit


On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Poland's EU-battles to continue as Duda wins tight vote
  2. EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK
  3. Let's have positive discrimination for EU stagiaires
  4. We need to do more for our small and medium-sized enterprises
  5. Romania's virus surge prompts queues and new worries
  6. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  7. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  8. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us