Policy brief

The European Central Bank in the age of banking union

This Policy Contribution was prepared for the European Parliament's 'Monetary Dialogue with the President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi. D

Publishing date
02 October 2013

During the crisis the European Central Bank’s roles have been greatly extended beyond its price stability mandate. In addition to the primary objective of price stability and the secondary objective of supporting EU economic policies, we identify ten new tasks related to monetary policy and financial stability.

We argue that there are three main constraints on monetary policy: fiscal dominance, financial repercussions and regional divergences. By assessing the ECB’s tasks in light of these constraints, we highlight a number of synergies between these tasks and the ECB’s primary mandate of price stability.

But we highlight major conflicts of interest related to the ECB’s participation in financial assistance programmes. We also underline that the ECB’s government bond purchasing programmes have introduced the concept of ‘monetary policy under conditionality’, which involves major dilemmas. A solution would be a major change towards a US-style system, in which state public debts are small, there are no federal bail-outs for states, the central bank does not purchase state debt and banks do not hold state debt. Such a change is unrealistic in the foreseeable future.

About the authors

  • Zsolt Darvas

    Zsolt Darvas, a Hungarian citizen, joined Bruegel as a Visiting Fellow in September 2008 and continued his work at Bruegel as a Research Fellow from January 2009, before being appointed Senior Fellow from September 2013. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Corvinus University of Budapest.

    From 2005 to 2008, he was the Research Advisor of the Argenta Financial Research Group in Budapest. Before that, he worked at the research unit of the Central Bank of Hungary (1994-2005) where he served as Deputy Head.

    Zsolt holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Corvinus University of Budapest where he teaches courses in Econometrics but also at other institutions since 1994. His research interests include macroeconomics, international economics, central banking and time series analysis.

  • Silvia Merler

    Silvia Merler, an Italian citizen, is the Head of ESG and Policy Research at Algebris Investments.

    She joined Bruegel as Affiliate Fellow at Bruegel in August 2013. Her main research interests include international macro and financial economics, central banking and EU institutions and policy making.

    Before joining Bruegel, she worked as Economic Analyst in DG Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission (ECFIN). There she focused on macro-financial stability as well as financial assistance and stability mechanisms, in particular on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), providing supportive analysis for the policy negotiations.

    Between May 2011 and August 2012, she worked as Research Assistant to Jean Pisani-Ferry, then-director of Bruegel. During 2009 and 2010, while a student, she collaborated to research projects of Bocconi University and the Italian ENI Enrico Mattei Foundation (FEEM). During this period she was involved in the MICRODYN project, working on a cross-country and cross-sectors analysis of productivity developments with firm level data, and on the POLINARES project (“Policy for Natural Resources”).

    Born in 1986, she holds a MSc in Economics and Social Sciences at Bocconi University in Milan and graduated in 2011 with a thesis on Current Account Imbalances within the Euro Area. She obtained a BA in Economics and Social Sciences from the same university in 2008, with a thesis on Ukraine and Moldova in the European Neighbourhood Policy.

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