by N. Peter Kramer
On Wednesday Christine Lagarde had her ‘hearing’ in the EP’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. She is the only candidate for the job of President of the European Central Bank (ECB) and successor of the socially maladroit Mario Draghi. You could call this hearing a kind of a preparation for a non-binding vote in the plenary session of the parliament, later in September. It is clear that the European Council has already decided that Ms Lagarde will get one of the EU’s top positions.
As is usual in EP ‘hearings’, a select number of MEPs have the chance to make lengthy interventions which are far more important to them than the examinee’s answer. But, Christine Lagarde knows the game. She gave her answers, very seriously; after having already provided detailed answers on specific questions of MEPs in a 78-page document. Observers had the impression that most of the ‘eloquent’ speakers had lacked time to read this document.
Ms Lagarde must have felt that considered being a woman was the most important reason for the EP political groups to be in favour of her candidacy. Listen to Stephanie Yon-Courtin of Renew Europe (a new name for the ALDE group, EU Liberals): ‘I am proud to support Christine Lagarde for the first female President of the ECB. For me she is a strong advocate of female empowerment’.
In her replies, Ms Lagarde agreed that it was time to review the ECB’s monetary framework to address new challenges such as non-bank lending, fintech, crypto currencies, and climate change. She also said that the ECB’s quantitative easing had led to negative effects. She has already criticised in the past the troika’s decisions by Eurogroup in the period of President Dijsselbloem to emaciate the Greek people to save the French and German banks.
Conclusions? EPP wants Lagarde to focus on price stability alone. The Green call her the wrong person for the wrong job. Renew Europe provides an unconditioned positive assessment of the candidate. The Socialist group expresses its overall satisfaction that Ms Lagarde likes to change the roll of the ECB.
But does this all really matter? Christine Lagarde will take up her role November 1, no doubt. And the European Parliament? It will go on with talking and talking and talking; a continuing waste of EU tax payer’s money.