German Voting Rights in the ECB

Germany has the same voting rights in the European Central Bank as all its other members, including much smaller economies such as Greece, but also Cyprus and Malta. Some in Germany are calling for a change in the ECB’s voting regime. Photograph: Youness Bouzinab

Germany has the same voting rights in the European Central Bank as all its other members, including much smaller economies such as Greece, but also Cyprus and Malta. Some in Germany are calling for a change in the ECB’s voting regime. Photograph: Youness Bouzinab

That Germany has the same weight in the European Central Bank as far smaller economies whose central banks contribute much less to the budget of the ECB is seen by some here as an injustice. But the rotation system, by which only 18 governors of the euro area national central banks can be granted voting rights at any given time, could soon become a far more unpopular statute still.

Until now this rotation system has had little effect on the actual influence of member states, and of Germany in particular: whatever the composition of the Bank’s Governing Council, the country always retains a voice. The likely adoption of the euro by Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania in coming months and years could, however, bring the number of members in rotation to 28, including the 6 members of the ECB’s Executive Board. With governors moving in and out of the council every month, Germany would find itself for part of the year temporarily without voting rights.

It is this hypothetical scenario that worries the centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung: considering the current economic climate, and divergences between Germany and other euro zone members over the role of the ECB, even observers who do not support Chancellor Merkel’s European policy fear that Germany’s voice could not be heard. The Finance Minister of Bayern has called for a reform of this rule. If the statutes are not changed, this little-known provision will soon become far more central.

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