The remit and influence of the all-powerful European Central Bank was debated by MEPs today in the latest in a series of topical discussions at the Strasbourg plenary.

In particular, MEPs exchanged views on the powers and control of the ECB which, aside from dictating monetary policies across the Eurozone, has also inflicted years of austerity amongst the EU’s southern member states.

First up for GUE/NGL was Fabio De Masi who, as a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), went straight to the heart of the matter:

“The ECB has neutralised its own monetary policy by being complicit in the illegal blackmail of the troika.”

“The labour market reforms and attacks on workers’ rights have depressed wages and therefore prevented the ECB from reaching its inflation target.”

“The ECB must quit the troika – and the troika must be dissolved,” said De Masi.

Meanwhile, Greek MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament Dimitrios Papadimoulis examined the remit of the ECB from a different angle:

“Ι have constantly and harshly criticised the ECB in the past. However, the ECB is now being criticised by the far-right and the German ultraconservatives mainly for a positive measure – quantitative easing.”

“In Greece, we are actually looking forward to being included in the quantitative easing mechanism. The ECB has therefore done more for Greece than many other European governments,” surmised Papadimoulis.

Irish MEP Matt Carthy – a substitute on the ECON committee – said that a reform of the ECB is long overdue:

“A letter from Mario Draghi’s predecessor once revealed that the ECB threatened to cut emergency assistance to Ireland if the government did not request a bailout, and demanded a series of austerity measures and a fire sale of public assets, against the opinion of the IMF.”

“Where exactly in its mandate does it say the ECB has the power to do this? New initiatives being dreamt up by the Commission about introducing democratic oversight of the euro are meaningless if they will not dramatically reform the ECB,” said Carthy.

Equally scathing was Greek MEP Nicolaos Chountis who is in no doubt about the ECB’s true 'raison d’etre':

“The ECB is a mechanism of economic coup d'états in order to discipline governments and to punish people who have questions over austerity and privatisation,” he argued.

Finally, GUE/NGL’s Coordinator on the ECON committee, Marisa Matias, said the way the ECB behaves is akin to being both the police and the thief – and with zero public oversight:

“We’ve now reached a point where for years the ECB has been violating its mandate and acting outside of it.”

“In fact, the ECB behaves like a dictatorship over European democracies. This is nothing new but it is increasingly obvious to many,” said the Portuguese MEP.

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