In a debate this evening on the ECB's performance in 2013, GUE/NGL MEPs critisiced the ECB's role in imposing austerity measures on crisis countries.

Portuguese MEP Miguel Viegas said: “The ECB is now directly intervening in sovereign interest rates, and it has moved into ABS asset-backed securities in order to stem the crisis. And this year the ECB is taking on the role of supervisor, making sure that various different banks fulfil their roles with no democratic scrutiny. What that means is that it is subject to the will of the banking industry and not to democratic institutions.

“The sovereign debt being bought up by the ECB is incompatible with its presence in the Troika programmes being imposed on the countries under the programme.”

Portuguese MEP Marisa Matias said: “The lack of democratic scrutiny of the ECB is apparent. 2013 was an excellent example of how the expansionist monetary policy of the ECB has failed. Not only did inflation not develop but we saw negative GDP growth and a 14% increase in unemployment across Europe.

“We've also seen an active application of excessive austerity policies that really go beyond the ECB's mandate.  Between 2009 and 2014 investment dropped 16.3% in the Eurozone, despite all of this the ECB continues to impose austerity as we've seen now from the negotiations in Greece. “

Irish MEP Matt Carthy added: “2013 was the year the Irish government held the Presidency of the EU and it was also the year when the central statistics office in Ireland recorded that over 250 people a day were leaving Irish shores in an emigration wave that was a direct result of austerity policies that were championed by the ECB. When we look at banking debt it is quite apparent from today's discussions that the ECB has provided no thought or mention to the debt that generations of Irish people are going to be saddled with.”

Spanish MEP Paloma Lopez commented:  “The banking sector is stumbling along through emergency measures. Monetary policy does not set employment as a top priority. It has not prevented an increase in poverty and deflation in Europe. There is no recognition of the fact that increased public spending is a more useful tool to turn things round rather than structural reforms being recommended. The ECB is a spokesperson for neoliberalism and it defies legitimately elected governments in Cyprus and Greece. The people of Europe want an ECB that works in the interests of people and not markets.”

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