Don’t bank on total ECB transparency

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Series Details 08/03/01, Volume 7, Number 10
Publication Date 08/03/2001
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Date: 08/03/01

“Why adopt transparency?” is the promising-sounding title of a recent publication from the European Central Bank (ECB).

At last, thought Norwegian Lillian Andenaes, assistant to British Socialist MEP Chris Huhne, a document that could cast some light on the internal workings of one of the EU's most secretive institutions.

But she was to be disappointed upon closer inspection, as much of the document consists of an extremely un-transparent mix of text broken up by complex mathematical equations incomprehensible to all but ECB President Wim Duisesnberg and the most devoted economics nerds. The ECB is not the only one to hide behind mathematical mumbo-jumbo. Italian centre-right MEP Raffaele Costa says the Commission has been at it as well.

In a series of questions posed to the institution Costa has been trying to get a straight answer about, funnily enough, how much European central bankers earn.

“On each occasion the Commission has glossed over its replies, taking refuge behind abstract formulas and incomprehensible parameters,” he said.

In his latest response Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pedro Solbes appears to have dropped the 'blind them with science' approach, but his answer that the Commission simply does not know the answer is just as unlikely to satisfy Costa, we fear.

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