European Central Bank Has Democratic Legitimacy, Says Issing

The European Central Bank (ECB) has a 'robust degree of democratic legitimacy', according to Professor Otmar Issing, a member of the ECB's Executive Board. Issing, writing in a new paper from the Institute of Economic Affairs*, says that because the ECB's primary objective of maintaining price stability is enshrined in an international treaty concluded by fifteen governments the Bank not only has protection from political interference but is democratically accountable.

Professor Issing explores the constitutional position of the ECB and the social value of price stability. He argues strongly that stable money is a common good and that it makes sense to create an independent institution which can pursue this good with minimum distraction. Stable money, he says, is '..too important to be left to the day-to-day political process' (page 27). However, independent central banks should have clear and limited mandates which constrain their discretionary power and m