Mr President, with this report the European Parliament delivers its opinion on the appointment of the fourth President of the European Central Bank – an institution which became a fundamental pillar not only for the conduct of monetary policies but also for the whole process of Europe’s economic integration.
The nomination of Christine Lagarde as the first woman to serve in this position, which is itself something historic, is happening fortuitously only a few months after the solemn celebration in this Chamber of the euro’s 20th anniversary. The single currency is, first and foremost, a powerful economic tool. Not only is it the natural and indispensable complement to the single market, but it is also, as President Mario Draghi often recalls in his speeches, the prerequisite for preserving monetary sovereignty in an increasingly global and interconnected world.
The euro though is more than a mere economic tool: it is, above all, an ambitious political project. It is the cornerstone of a European Union of peace and prosperity and the indispensable instrument for protecting and supporting the European economic, social and political model – as we face the important transformations of our time.
Over the past 20 years – despite the imperfection and incompleteness of European economic governance – the single currency has shown amazing strength and resilience, even when confronted with one of the toughest economic crises in history. In addition to the political determination to maintain its integrity, the commitment by the European Central Bank and its Presidents – within their terms of reference, of course – to preserve the single currency through concrete monetary-policy action has made a fundamental contribution to protecting the euro and hence the well-being of all European citizens.
The 76 written answers provided by the candidate, which are attached to the report being voted on today, as well as the intense hearing before the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on 4 September, show, I believe, not only Christine Lagarde’s awareness of the task and the challenges ahead but also her suitability to take up the baton from her predecessors and to keep on pursuing this important mission.
The large consensus which the candidate obtained in the committee constitutes, I believe, a good basis for the outcome of today’s vote. However, our task does not end here. In accordance with the Treaties and in line with our committee’s work and that of Parliament as a whole, we will keep on monitoring the activity and decisions of the ECB, inter alia through quarterly monetary dialogues, annual reports and written questions from MEPs. As always, we will be demanding. And we will expect an institution that lives up to the fundamental task it is expected to perform.
If we want to reach our ambitious objectives, however, the strength and the stability of the euro is not sufficient. We need to add new institutions, new tools and truly European economic policies to monetary-policy measures.
It is imperative to pursue an authentic deepening of our economic and monetary union, as was stated too in the programme presented by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, which includes measures to ensure the full implementation of the social pillar, as well as growth-oriented revision of European economic governance. In this context, as co-legislator, we are ready to accept the challenge.