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ECB subsidies for corporations: What French presidential candidates think about it

Four candidates to the French presidential election have expressed their agreement with our proposal to make the 'corporate QE' programme more transparent, and include social and environmental criteria in the selection of bonds.

This article was first published on www.qe4people.fr

Since June 2016, the ECB (and participating national central banks) have created more than EUR 75bn euros, just to purchase bonds from the largest multinational corporations. The intention of the ECB is understandable in principle: injecting more liquidity into bonds markets is supposed to ease financing conditions for all companies in Europe, thereby stimulating investment. As often however the devil is in the details.

After scrutinizing the list of bonds being purchases by the Eurosystem so far, Corporate Europe Observatory has drawn a shocking conclusion: a vast amount of money is being poured into the fossil fuel industry and other major polluting companies. This is happening only few months after the EU committed to fight against climate change by signing the Paris Agreement.

More than 70 NGOs agree with us that this is unacceptable, and we have issued a joint statement denouncing this practice by the European Central Bank.

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In the context of the French elections, we wanted to know what the candidates think about this, and whether they would support our proposals to increase the ECB's transparency over this programme and include social and environmental criteria in its guidelines.

Together with ATTAC-France and Les Économistes Atterrés (a well-known group of French economists) we have addressed a letter to all the candidates to the French presidential election. Four candidates have responded so far.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Right-wing eurosceptic) was the first to reply: "We take notice of the information you provided and of the measures that would be useful to be implemented" his team said by email.

In a much more detailed response, Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon clearly endorsed our proposals, which he even extended to fully endorse our "Green QE" proposal, under which QE should be allocated towards financing the Green transition:

"It is urgent for the ECB to shift its policy in order for monetary policy to truly serve the future of its citizens rather than the one of large companies who do not care after social and environmental issues. More generally, we need quantitative easing to finance investments into the ecological and economic transition, in order to create jobs." 

 

The communist candidate Philippe Poutou also supported our proposals, but took a more radical approach in its critique of the ECB:

Your proposals are common sense: we need more transparency and social and environmental criteria should be taken into account. However I want to underline that the lack of transparency is congenital to the inception of the ECB and its functioning. Monetary policy is fundamentally flawed by the rules of the euro zone. We must fix the problem at its root and challenge the independence of the ECB."

 

Later on, we received another letter from Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the rising Left-wing candidate. "Monetary policy is a too serious business to be left to bankers" the letter eloquently reads.

Mélenchon also supports our proposals, but suggest we also point out that social criteria would not be enough as it would still exclude many SMEs from the programme. For this purpose he suggests a very similar approach to our Green QE proposal: the ECB should provide funding to public investment banks that would in turn finance private or public investments. 

Finally a debate on monetary policy in France?

Those answers largely support our claims that people cannot be indifferent to the the implications of quantitative easing. According to the four candidates, our proposals are going into the right direction. It is however sad that it took so much effort to get their attention onto this major economic and social issue. 

The first round of the french election will take place this Sunday 23 April. Regardless of who is elected for President of France, we look forward to continue our work in France in the context of the legislative elections.


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