Bini-Smaghi, Lorenzo and Gros, Daniel. (2001) Is the ECB sufficiently accountable and transparent? ENEPRI Working Paper No. 7, September 2001. [Working Paper]
More than two years after its inception, the ECB is still perceived as lacking transparency by many academics and market participants. Our analysis, based on a series of indicators, suggests instead that the ECB is, at least on paper, one of the most transparent and accountable central banks. The discrepancy between theory and public perception suggests that much remains to be done within the given institutional framework to improve the transparency of the ECB. What is the best way to achieve this goal? Several suggestions have been put forward, such as publishing the detailed minutes of the ECB Governing Council meetings. This would result in shifting the true debate to informal meetings of the Governing Council, while formal meetings would only record pre-packaged consensus with no or little discussion. In our view, the best way to make the ECB more accountable is to engage it in substantive discussions about its policy. The ECB should provide more information about the background analysis that leads to policy decisions. For example, the ECB should transform its ‘staff projections’ into true inflation forecasts and it should be more open about the arguments that shape the internal debates, which precedes decisions. Accountability cannot be ensured by the ECB alone. An important role has to be played by its counterparts, such as the European Parliament, the Council of EU Finance Ministers and the public at large.
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