When Yves Mersch completes his mandate at the European Central Bank on December 14, part of the memory of the euro will go with him. At 71, the man has been a member of the Board of Governors of the institution in Frankfurt since its creation twenty-two years ago, first as Governor of the Bank of Luxembourg, then becoming one of the six members of the management board, in 2012. “I have Europe in my skin”, he confides to World, almost apologizing, he who was already part of the negotiators of the Maastricht Treaty, in the 1980s.
This professional life devoted to the European Union (EU) is almost genetic. A few years ago, the Luxembourger discovered a family tie with Robert Schuman, one of the founding fathers of European construction. He even knew the birthplace of the latter (it now houses the Robert-Schuman Foundation): his sister lived there in the 1970s and 1980s.
From this steadfast commitment, Mr. Mersch withdraws the unanimous approval of the European seraglio, as well as a reputation as a “moderate hawk”, defender of monetary and budgetary orthodoxy. “He is a very competent, wise, cultivated man, notes Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the ECB between 2003 and 2011, who knew him well. A deeply convinced European, with a dual culture, French and German. ”
“He is the typical profile of the Luxembourger involved in community building: assuring the Germans that he understands the French, assuring the French that he understands the Germans, and in fact contributing to the construction of the compromise between the two countries”, says a former European civil servant.
Yves Mersch claims this role of hyphen. He who has often doubted the interventionism of the ECB, which he found too aggressive, never expressed any differences when the time for decision struck in the Governing Council. “At the ECB, a young institution, we have always favored decision-making by consensus, on a federal basis. It is very effective “, he boasts. This role of consensus-maker has, however, been translated into a certain discretion. “Over the years, he has never made a strong monetary policy proposal”, notes a fine connoisseur of the institution, calling him “timid”.
“Even the most Eurosceptic parties have changed their minds”
What conclusions does he draw from these decades of work in favor of the single currency? “I am very satisfied with the result. First, [l’euro] is a currency favored by more than 75% of Europeans. Even the most Eurosceptic political parties have changed their minds, because citizens do not want to get rid of this achievement. It is then a currency appreciated by companies and sought after by financial markets. “
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