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Two sides of the same coin? Independence and accountability of the European Central Bank

This report is published at a time when the ECB faces a major dilemma. Because political inertia has to date prevented the establishment of a sustainable institutional architecture for the Eurozone, the ECB’s role in safeguarding the euro is as indispensable as ever. The ECB emerged as the decisive actor in the euro crisis, with an extraordinary degree of latitude thanks to the statutory independence enshrined in the EU treaties: Governing Council members may not seek or take instructions from member state governments or European authorities to protect it from political interference. At the same time the ECB faces a significant decline in public trust, which alongside its expanded responsibilities put considerable strain on its accountability. The relationship between the ECB’s independence, its mandate, and its accountability lies at the heart of this report. This arrangement is intended to ensure the legitimacy of a body that has deliberately been placed outside of democratic politics