chapter  10
19 Pages

Making a central bank without a state HARO lD J AMe S

A peculiarity of the process of European monetary integration is the way that it represents a marked contrast with almost every other known historical episode of currency unions, monetary integration, or more generally of the institutionalization of monetary arrangements.1 To take the very striking contrast of a wellknown nineteenth-century precedent, in Germany in the 1870s, Otto von Bismarck first created a political union (1871), then a common currency (1873), then a central bank (1875). In Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, there was a European Monetary Institute (1994) that laid the foundations for a European System of Central Banks, a monetary union (1999), but (as yet) no sign of political unification, despite the renaming of the European Community in the Maastricht Treaty as the European Union. In other monetary unifications, the state is at the beginning and in the center of the process; in Europe, we do not quite know where the state is. For nineteenth-century German unification, a long-time favorite school examination question was whether Bismarck had a blueprint for German unification that he used as a strategic guide through the 1860s. Most modern historians are skeptical about the notion of a well-worked-out strategy in the case of Bismarck. For EMU and the ECB, there is no doubt about the relevance of blueprints, and two in particular were especially significant: the Werner report of 1970 and the Delors Committee report of 1989. But even before the Werner report, an institution had been created which can in some ways be regarded as the ugly chrysalis from which the beautiful butterfly of a unified currency emerged: the Committee of Central Bank Governors of the Member States of the European Economic Community. European monetary union is a quite unique process, that has nevertheless been a subject of great fascination in other parts of the world: in the Gulf region, where there are periodic discussions of monetary unification, as well as in Asia and Latin America, where movements towards greater monetary integration also have some support but encounter a plethora of difficulties. A large part of the fascination of the European project lies in two very particular aspects of the process: the non-state character of the integration process, and the relationship of regional changes to debates about reform of the international monetary system.