2019 is and will continue to be a year of major changes in Europe. European citizens have been called to the polls to elect new representatives to the EP in May. Moreover, 2019 also marks the end of Mario Draghi’s eight-year tenure at the ECB and, while many names have been floating around, a successor is yet to be appointed. In short, all top leadership roles in the EU are now up for grabs. In this context of uncertainty regarding the future outlook of the EU leadership, one cannot help but wonder whether the increased attention paid by the public to the ECB will stay. While this is a matter of speculations, it is true that a different political configuration in the EP could lead to a new set of concerns for the newly-elected MEPs – it is impossible to exclude the possibility that monetary policy will disregarded as a top priority. What is more, it is yet to be seen to what extent and in what capacity the ECB will engage with Parliament in the absence of Draghi at the helm of the Bank. As European countries scramble to allocate key leadership positions to their nationals, the ECB could be faced with a drastic change in leadership. Some have called for continuity and have stressed the importance of selecting a candidate with the conciliatory approach exhibited by Draghi during his tenure. On his part, Draghi has reiterated his firm belief in the importance of strong supervision and scrutiny by the EP of the ECB. In fact, during the plenary debate of the EP about the 2017 ECB Annual Report, the President declared that: “The European Parliament in holding the ECB to account gives legitimacy to its independence.” His belief in the necessity for strong oversight by Parliament has been restated time and time again. In a speech delivered at the University of Bologna, he once again drew a clear connection between oversight by Parliament and the perceived legitimacy of the ECB. These statements not only provide an indication of Draghi’s leadership priorities but also shed light on points of interest he might want his successor to uphold in the future. Looking back at his tenure, there are reasons to believe that Mario Draghi will be credited with truly having embraced the “whatever it takes” approach to safeguard the stability of the single currency. On top of this, by endorsing the monitoring function of the EP, he has strengthened the ECB’s reputation as an independent body, operating in the interest of Eurozone citizens. As the elections approach and a successor to Super Mario is selected, the relationship of the ECB and EP will continue to involve and to shape the future of the single currency and, to a large extent, to the European project as a whole.
I would like to thank Mr. Alessandro Giovannini, an Economist at the ECB, for kindly providing vital information to complete this article.