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ECB officials demand publishing of board meeting minutes

Two top European Central Bank officials have come out in favor of publishing the minutes of the ECB board's regular strategy meetings. They said more transparency would keep the bank in good standing.

ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure (pictured) told Monday's edition of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and France's La Figaro that he favored publishing minutes of policy-setting meetings because people wanted more transparency and accountability.

His words were echoed by his colleague Jörg Asmussen, who was quoted in the same interview as saying the minutes should reveal who voted for what and why. He indicated there was not yet a majority on the board for such a move, but said the debate was widening.

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"Every majority starts as a minority," Asmussen commented. So far, the ECB has never published minutes, and the regular press conference by its president following board meetings does not reveal any information about the voting behavior of individual members on important aspects of monetary policy.

No plain sailing

"Transparency is crucial for the efficiency of monetary policy and the trusts people place in the central bank," Coeure said, contradicting those who believe that disclosing voting details might ratchet up the pressure on individual board members by lobby groups and politicians.

Coeure added that more transparency would be needed also with a view to the upcoming supervision of the bloc's most important lenders by the ECB as of next year.

ECB supervision is meant to become a crucial pillar of the banking union which is to come in response to the protracted eurozone debt crisis and aims to lend more stability long-term to the financial sector.

hg/mkg (AFP, AP, dpa)

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