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Европейская денежная система

introduction of the euro, although it has elements of both monetary

targeting and inflation targeting.

In the context of this strategy the ECB has provided a quantitative

definition of price stability. Price stability is defined as a year-on-year

increase in the harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) of below 2% for

the euro area as a whole. Price stability is to be maintained in the medium


The strategy consists of two pillars. The first pillar is a prominent

role for money. Ultimately, inflation is a monetary phenomenon. It is in

the end result of too much money chasing too few goods. Therefore, we have

formulated a reference value for the growth of a broad monetary aggregate,

M3, of 4 Ѕ% on an annual basis. Growth of the money stock at this pace

would provide the economy with sufficient liquidity for growth in activity

in line with trend growth, without inflation. At the end of this year this

figure will be reviewed. It should be emphasised that we did not define a

target for money growth. The reason for this is the structural break that

the introduction of the euro creates. By calling this a reference value, it

is made clear that money is one variable which we look at very carefully in

order to examine whether inflationary or deflationary pressures are tending

to emerge. We do not, however, react mechanistically to changes in money


The formulation of the second pillar is also prompted by the

potential changes in economic behaviour on account of the introduction of

the euro. It is a broadly based assessment of the outlook for price

developments on the basis of an analysis of monetary, financial and

economic developments. In this context interest rates, the yield curve,

wage developments, public finance, the output gap, surveys of economic

sentiment and many other indicators are analysed. Use is also made of

forecasts produced by other bodies and internally for inflation and other

economic variables.

This brings me to the role of the exchange rate of the euro in our

strategy. Since our primary objective is price stability and since the euro

area as a whole is a relatively closed economy with an export share of 14%

of gross domestic product, we do not have a target for the exchange rate of

the euro, for example, against the US dollar. This does not mean, and it is

good to underline this once more, that the ECB is indifferent to the

external value of the euro or even neglects it. The external value of the

euro is one of the indicators we look at in the broadly based assessment of

the outlook for price developments. Within that framework, we constantly

monitor exchange rate developments, analyse them and shall act on them, if

and when this becomes necessary. However, such action will never be

mechanistic, nor will it be isolated. The external value of the euro and

its development are analysed and considered in the context of other

indicators of future price developments. The ECB also tries to assess

international confidence in the still very young euro. Of course, the level

of international confidence in the euro is not the only factor determining

its external value, nor is the exchange rate the only indicator of

confidence in the euro. It is, for instance, encouraging to see how the

euro has been received on the international money and capital markets. I am

sure that an internally stable euro will also strongly underpin

international confidence in this currency, as it has for other currencies

in the past.

As the currency of a very large area, the issue of the international

role of the euro naturally arises. The ECB takes a neutral stance regarding

this role. It will neither be stimulated, nor hindered. On the one hand, an

international currency has advantages for citizens in the euro area, on the

other, it may sometimes complicate the conduct of monetary policy when a

large amount of euro is circulating outside the euro area. We shall leave

the development of the international role of the euro to market

participants and market forces. If history is a guide as to what will

happen, there will be a gradual process whereby the euro will have an

increasingly international role. Such a gradual development would also be a

welcome development, if only to prevent the euro from becoming too strong

externally at some point in time. It is likely and understandable that

interest in the euro is already considerable in those countries aspiring to

join the EU, including Poland. I shall elaborate on this issue at the end

of my speech.

Coming back to our monetary policy strategy, I should like to point

out that it is important to make clear what monetary policy can and cannot

do. Monetary policy can maintain price stability, but only in the medium

term. In the short term prices are also influenced by non-monetary

developments. Moreover, monetary policy measures only have an impact on

prices with long, variable and not entirely predictable time-lags of

between 1.5 and 2 years. Therefore, monetary policy-making should have a

forward-looking character. Today's inflation is the result of past policy

measures, and current policy measures only affect future inflation. The

uncertainty of the economic process in a market economy is another reason

for policy-makers to be modest. The ECB does not pursue an activist policy.

Precise steering of the business cycle or a cyclically-oriented monetary

policy are not feasible and are likely to destabilise rather than stabilise

the economy. Some commentators have interpreted our recent interest rate

reduction as a change to a more cyclically-oriented monetary policy

strategy. This is not true. Our strategy was, is and shall remain medium

term-oriented and firmly focused on maintaining the price stability which

currently prevails in the euro area.

Monetary policy should be supported by sound budgetary policies and

wage developments in line with productivity growth and taking into account

the objective of price stability. Otherwise, price stability can only be

maintained at a high cost in terms of lost output and employment. This also

explains why independence should not mean isolation. It is important to

have a regular exchange of information and views with other policy-makers.

The Maastricht Treaty stipulates that the President of the ECB is invited

to meetings of the EU Council meeting in the composition of the Ministers

of Economy and Finance whenever there are issues on the agenda which are

relevant to the ECB's tasks. The President of the Council of Ministers and

a member of the European Commission may attend meetings of the Governing

Council, although they do not have the right to vote. The President of the

Council of Ministers may submit motions for deliberation. Apart from these

formal contacts, there are many informal contacts, for example in the

context of the so-called Euro-11 group of finance ministers from the euro

area countries. I regularly attend meetings of this group.

Monetary policy cannot be used to solve structural problems, such as

the unacceptably high level of unemployment in the euro area. Structural

problems call for structural solutions, in this case measures targeted at

making labour and product markets work more flexibly. The best contribution

the ECB's monetary policy can make in this context is to maintain price

stability. In this way one of the conditions for sustainable growth in

incomes and employment is created. As important as this is, it should be

realised that jobs are created by firms which are confident about the

future and not by central banks.

5. Accountability and transparency

Accountability for policies is the logical complement to independence

in a democratic society. The Maastricht Treaty includes a number of

provisions in this respect. First, there is the mandate to pursue price

stability. This provides a qualitative measure against which the ECB's

performance can be measured. As I have already mentioned, we have decided

to enhance this by providing a quantitative definition of price stability.

One of the aims of publishing our monetary policy strategy is to make our

policy decisions transparent.

The ECB has to publish an annual report in which, inter alia, the

monetary policy of the previous and current year are discussed. I present

this Annual Report to the EU Council and to the European Parliament, which

may hold a general debate on the basis of it. The President and other

members of the Executive Board of the ECB may be heard by the competent

committees of the European Parliament. I have agreed to appear before the

European Parliament at least four times a year. The ECB has to report on

its activities at least quarterly. It has been decided to go beyond this

requirement and to publish a monthly bulletin.

It is my view that the main way to achieve accountability is through

being transparent and open. In passing, I should like to note that

transparency also enhances the effectiveness of a central bank. The better

it is understood, the more successful a central bank is. Apart from the

activities I have already mentioned, transparency is achieved in several

ways. Every month, after the first meeting of the Governing Council, the

Vice-President and I give a press conference. I start the conference with a

comprehensive introductory statement, in which I explain the decisions

taken by the Governing Council and the underlying analysis and arguments

for and against. This introductory statement is published immediately on

the ECB's Internet Web site. This is followed by a question and answer

session attended by several hundred journalists. The questions and answers

are also published on the Internet shortly afterwards. All the members of

the Governing Council frequently make speeches, give interviews and

contribute to journals and books. Thousands of people visit the ECB and the

national central banks each year and, for our part, we and our staff attend

many conferences and other public events.

6. EU enlargement

The European integration process continues. The euro should be made a

success. I have already explained how we have started the process of doing

that. Some observers have criticised the EU for its "obsession with its own

internal dynamics", in particular in the context of European Economic and

Monetary Union (EMU). With all energies focused on meeting the convergence

criteria and the preparation for the launch of the euro, Europeans outside

the EU have wondered whether EMU and enlargement are not mutually exclusive


Let me briefly comment on this issue. After the historic decision to

complete the European Single Market in the 1980s, it was felt that economic

integration should not stop at that point. To fully reap the rewards of

economic integration within the Community, a single currency was felt

necessary; a logic pointedly encapsulated in the title of one report: "One

market, one money".

Hence, the underlying idea of EMU was to advance European integration

and to ensure that full use would be made of the economic potential of the

Single Market. This idea continues to be the focus of European policy-

makers, as evidenced by the association agreements and the ongoing

accession negotiations with a number of European countries, Poland among

them. Good and mutually beneficial economic relations with third countries

in Europe and further afield are a pillar of EU policy orientation.

Recognising this, the principles of an open market economy with free

competition are enshrined in the Treaty on European Union. EMU will not

weaken this commitment, but rather reinforce it. Closer co-operation in

Europe and the respect of common principles in the political, economic and

social fields are likely to form the basis for further integration. The ECB

shall contribute to this process within the scope of its responsibility.

Countries wishing to deepen their monetary co-operation to the

ultimate extent possible by forming a monetary union will have to adapt

their economic and legal systems to the standards required by the Treaty

and aim at a sufficient degree of economic convergence. In the absence of

these conditions, adjustment costs for both current and new participants

could be high. Any premature decision on the adoption of the euro could

have severe repercussions on a country's competitiveness and trigger

painful economic adjustments. Therefore, implementation of the necessary

institutional reforms and of a sufficient degree of convergence should not

be considered as an obstacle preventing further integration in Europe, but

rather as an essential means of ensuring the lasting success of EMU, for

existing and new participants alike. Looking at the impressive progress

made in a relatively short time in this country, there is no reason to be

pessimistic about Poland's chances of meeting these standards and

convergence criteria. I shall not venture, however, to predict when this

will be the case.

Even at the current juncture, though, EMU in one part of Europe is

already having an impact on the whole region. Let me briefly mention two


* If the euro emerges, as I believe it will, as a strong and

stable currency, it will provide the countries in the region

with an important reference currency, an anchor towards

which, should the intention arise, monetary policy could

credibly be oriented.

* Furthermore, EMU is set to bring about the development of a

truly unified European financial market, close to that of

the United States in depth and sophistication. The

competitive pressures of this euro area financial market

will create more favourable financing conditions for

borrowers. A number of central and eastern European

countries have already successfully tapped this market.

In view of these effects, it is altogether natural that the ECB has

started to follow with great interest economic and financial developments

in the wider Europe, particularly in those countries which have applied for

EU membership. Moreover, the ECB monitors closely the exchange rate

developments with those countries which have established some form of

exchange rate link to the euro.

The euro has the potential to become more than just a new currency

for almost 300 million people in 11 countries. It may also become a

unifying symbol, standing for all that the peoples of Europe have in

common. Consequently, the public perception of the euro could endow the

single currency with a role in the European integration process reaching

beyond monetary policy in the strict sense. May the euro contribute to the

establishment of what the preamble to the Treaty Establishing the European

Community calls: "an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe".


The single European monetary policy

Speech by Willem F. Duisenberg

President of the European Central Bank

at the University of Hohenheim

on 9 February 1999, in Hohenheim, Germany

Ladies and gentlemen, The single European monetary policy has been a

reality for a little more than five weeks. After years of intensive

preparatory work and successful economic convergence, monetary policy is

now jointly determined for a large part of Europe by the Governing Council

of the European Central Bank. The monetary policy is implemented by the

Eurosystem, the name given to the ECB and the 11 central banks of the EU

Member States participating in Monetary Union.

The single currency is quoted on the international financial markets

and is used in non-cash payments. However, the euro will not appear as yet

in tangible form as banknotes and coins. Nonetheless there is no doubt that

this currency, which was only brought into existence on 1 January 1999,

will play an important role both within the euro area and beyond.

There is good reason for this confidence, ladies and gentlemen.

Overall the first few weeks went smoothly for the single currency and the

monetary policy of the Eurosystem. The start did not pass by entirely

without a hitch - which was not to be expected in any case, given the

significance and scale of this project - but there were no major


Monetary Union is a unique and outstanding achievement. It provides

the great opportunity to achieve the goal of lasting price stability

throughout Europe. Price stability is the best contribution that monetary

policy can make to lasting economic and employment growth in Europe. The

national governments and all those involved in collective wage bargaining

are being called on to remove the structural causes of the excessively high

unemployment. We can only hope that the introduction of the euro will spur

the implementation of structural reforms.

The stability-oriented monetary policy strategy of the Eurosystem

The Treaty establishing the European Community assigns the European

System of Central Banks (ESCB) - and thereby the Eurosystem - the primary

objective of maintaining price stability. The Governing Council will do its

utmost to fulfil this task and to explain its monetary policy so as to be

comprehensible to the general public. For this reason we have developed a

stability-oriented monetary policy which essentially consists of three main


The Governing Council has published a quantitative definition of its

primary objective, price stability. This gives clear guidance for

expectations in relation to future price developments. Price stability is

defined as an increase in the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices of the

euro area of less than 2% compared with the previous year. The publication

of this definition provides the public and the European Parliament with a

clear benchmark against which to measure the success of the single monetary

policy, and thereby provides for the transparency and accountability of the

Eurosystem and its policy.

The wording "less than 2%" clearly defines the upper limit for the

measured inflation rate which is compatible with price stability. I do not

think I need emphasise that deflation - or a sustained fall in prices -

would be incompatible with price stability. The latest available data for

the annual rate of inflation according to the Harmonised Index of Consumer

Prices for the euro area as a whole fall within the definition of price

stability. This outcome is clearly the result, above all, of the successful

monetary policy of the national central banks in the years before the start

of Monetary Union.

The ECB has only been responsible for monetary policy for a little

more than one month. It will only be possible to judge the success of its

current policy in one to two years'time. This reflects the fact that the

transmission of monetary policy impulses is subject to relatively long and

variable time lags. The Governing Council has therefore emphasised that

price stability must be maintained in the medium term. This statement

underlines not only the need for a forward-looking approach to monetary

policy, but also takes into consideration the short-term volatility of

prices in response to non-monetary shocks which are beyond the control of

monetary policy.

In order to achieve the goal of price stability, our strategy rests,

in particular, on two "pillars". Before I explain this in more detail, I

should like to emphasise that traditional and previously established

macroeconomic relationships could change as a consequence of the

introduction of the euro. This was one key reason why neither a monetary

targeting nor a direct inflation targeting strategy could be applied. Our

strategy is also more than just a simple combination of these two

approaches. Rather, it is precisely tailored to the needs of the ECB.

The first pillar of the monetary policy strategy is a prominent role

for money. Since inflation is ultimately a monetary phenomenon in the

medium term, the money supply provides a natural "nominal anchor" for a

monetary policy geared to safe-guarding price stability. To emphasise this

prominent role, the Governing Council has published a quantitative

reference value for growth in the money supply. The first reference value

decided upon by the Governing Council for growth in M3 was 4.5% per annum

and was published on 1 December. This value is based on the above-mentioned

definition of price stability and assumes a trend growth in real gross

domestic product of 2-2.5% per annum, as well as a medium-term reduction in

the velocity of circulation of M3 of around 0.5-1% per annum.

We shall not, however, respond mechanistically to deviations from the

reference value for money supply growth, but shall first analyse them

carefully for signals relating to future price developments. Larger or

sustained deviations normally signal risks to price stability.

The second pillar of the monetary policy strategy consists in a

broadly based assessment of the outlook for price developments in the

entire euro area. This assessment will be based on a broad range of

monetary policy indicators. In particular, those variables which could

contain information on future price developments will be analysed in depth.

This analysis should not only provide information on the risks for price

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