The Making Of The Statute Of The European System Of Central Banks ~ Chapter 1 – Introductory Chapter

Zur Thematik
The creation of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is one of the most profound steps in the monetary history of Europe, which has significance not only for professionals, politicians and academics, but also for everyday life. Among the accomplishments that stand out are the establishment of a federally structured European System of Central Banks (ESCB)[i] and the introduction of a single currency. The opinions and decisions of the European Central Bank (ECB)[ii] are almost daily topics for the national newspapers, discussions on its accountability (or perceived lack thereof) are recurrent topics in the European Parliament and political and academic circles. In short, the ECB has become a reality for almost everyone within a couple of years since its establishment. Technically it has been successful: the transition from national currencies to a single currency, the euro, has been a remarkably smooth process despite the gigantic scale of the operation. Though it is too early to evaluate how effective the ECB is in implementing its mandate, for the Monetary Union as a whole inflation rates are lower than they were during a large part of the nineties.

The legal underpinnings of the System and its independence have been extensively studied, see e.g. Stadler (1996), Smits (1997) and also Endler (1998). Also, from a political angle, the degree in which the negotiations leading up to the signing of the so-called Treaty of Maastricht in February 1992 could be characterized as a success for the German or for the French negotiators has been analyzed, e.g. by Viebig (1999) and Dyson/Featherstone (1999). In many respects these authors have concluded that it was a German success. However, the ESCB is not a copy of an existing central bank, not even the Bundesbank. It has been established on the basis of a unique Statute.[iii] This Statute will guide the ECB, also in the future. But like many texts, the Statute is sometimes ambiguous. For a right interpretation of the texts it is important to know their genesis. Sometimes wording was copied from existing other texts, sometimes texts are a delicate compromise, sometimes texts have a difficult technical history.

What distinguishes this study from these other studies is that these studies analyzed the ESCB from only one perspective, i.e. either from a legal, political or economic point of view. This study aims to show how political, economic and institutional considerations were combined and have found their way into the (legal) wording of the ESCB Statute. To this end I focus on each article, describing the economic rationale behind it as well as its genesis, systematically using historical sources which until now have not been used for these purposes. The perspective I take in order to interpret, analyse and assess the Statute of the ESCB is that of checks and balances. We will identify and study the ‘checks and balances’ which have been introduced in the Statute of the ESCB. ‘Checks and balances’ are an important characteristic of any federally designed system. They are part of the ‘rules of the game’, which have to be taken into account by the components of the system, which rules should ensure the system’s stability and effectiveness. For instance, ‘checks and balances’ prevent the possibility of ‘winner takes all’, because this would mean the end of the federal character. A clear normative framework for checks and balances for federal central bank systems is not available, though there are general notions which any workable system of checks and balances has to accord with. Therefore, we will develop a framework to describe the checks and balances in central bank systems.

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The Making Of The Statute Of The European System Of Central Banks ~ Chapter 2: Integration Theory, Federalism And Checks And Balances

Integration and transfer of power
Economic and political integration has been studied by a number of European authors. These studies related to the desirability for economic integration (a.o. Tinbergen)[i] and to ways to achieve political integration, on a worldwide scale or a regional scale (Mitrany, Haas).[ii] And there were ‘practioners’ (Monnet and Schuman). As to the academic writers occupied with questions relating to political integration, they were especially concerned with the issue of the optimal form of international organizations – intergovernmental or supranational. The proponents of supranational forms have won, be it of course dependent on the areas to be covered. Specific attention for the institutional aspects of integration (e.g. which powers to transfer, which decision-making procedures) is usually reserved for writers specialized in law, especially those specialized in European law (Lenaerts, Kapteyn and VerLoren van Themaat and more typically Dutch scholars like Barents and Brinkhorst)[iii] or American constitutionalism (Vile, Boon).[iv] But usually their emphasis is describing and explaining how the institutions actually work (and possibly recommending improvements) rather than putting down an overall framework for the institutional arrangement of those institutions – probably also because many institutions are seen as sui generis or otherwise historically determined. Below we will touch upon relevant elements of the work of those who have written in this area and this will lead us to a description of the concept of checks and balances, which will enable us to develop a framework to assess the role of checks and balances in the framework of the European central bank.

Above we have mentioned Tinbergen. In his book International Economic Integration (1965) Tinbergen argues that a central agent is primarily needed where one government may adversely or favourably affect the interests of other nations. However, he does not deal with the institutional aspects of this agent. Other writers were more focused on the issue of political integration. In Beyond the Nation-State (1968) Ernst Haas deals with the questions such as ‘what kind of international organization is required in order to maximize a process of international integration’ (defined as a process of growing mutual deference and institutional mingling[v]). To answer this question Haas turns to study the dynamics of intergovernmental types of organizations. Intergovernmental organizations, which can only act on behalf of their members and within a limited technical mandate on behalf of themselves, had been recommended by Mitrany, the founder of the functionalist school, as a way to propagate international integration. According to Haas, intergovernmental organizations are only successful, as long as there is mutual trust between the participants, for the delegates remain representatives of their respective governments. Haas applies this approach to the International Labor Organization (ILO), which confirms him in his view that a process of international integration will only have a chance of succeeding when the central organizations are supranational, as opposed to international, in character – the crucial difference being that the supranational organ would be autonomous, having independent rather than intergovernmental powers within its own domain and would have the capacity and desire (or better: a natural propensity) to expand its activity into adjacent sectors.[vi]

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Africa Book Link

The Africa Book Link is a newsletter, primarily announcing new and forthcoming African literature, drama and criticism.

Secondly, it announces conferences and highlights the latest articles, interviews and bookreviews related to African literature, drama or criticism.

Finally, it aims to publish its own book reviews regularly. If you want to write one for the Africa Book Link, please send an email to:

The Africa Book Link appears four times a year: in Spring, Summer, Fall, and in Winter.


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Over de rol van ijdelheid in de wetenschap ~ Over Norbert Elias

Omslag & DTP BuroBouws

In 1946 ging ik als student de colleges bijwonen van Professor A.N.J. Den Hollander, toen net benoemd tot hoogleraar in de sociologie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam. In een van zijn eerste colleges ried hij ons ter lezing de studie aan van een zekere Norbert Elias, getiteld Über den Prozess der Zivilisation. Hij zei erbij: ‘hij is een Duitser van joodse komaf, dus helaas, alle kans dat hij niet meer leeft’. Ik heb zijn raad opgevolgd en daar nooit spijt van gehad.

Als ik zijn studie nu opnieuw beschouw vind ik die weer, of nog steeds, een meesterwerk, handelend over een belangrijk onderwerp, met verve gepresenteerd en, dat vooral, gebaseerd op gedegen en zorgvuldig onderzoek. Geen uitspraak of die wordt onderbouwd door een verwijzing naar de literatuur; het notenapparaat omvat ruim 10 percent van de totale, zo’n 800 pagina’s tellende, tekst. En tenslotte, mij dunkt dat zijn conclusies grotendeels ook nu nog geldig zijn. [1] Ik ben trouwens niet de enige die dit meent. Zo werd ik geattendeerd op een boek uit 2011 waarvan de auteur dankbaar gebruik maakt van zijn inzichten, zoals neergelegd in Über den Prozess der Zivilisation.[2]

In 1933 was Elias verbonden aan de universiteit van Frankfurt als assistent van Karl Mannheim, een in die tijd terecht befaamde socioloog. In januari van dat jaar kwam Hitler in Duitsland aan de macht. Al in maart of april is Elias uit Duitsland vertrokken, toen dat voor joden nog gemakkelijk kon. Hij heeft twee jaar in Parijs gewoond, is daarna naar Londen getrokken. Daar ontving hij van een comité dat joodse vluchtelingen uit Duitsland bijstond jarenlang een schamele toelage.

In precies drie jaar, van zijn acht en dertigste tot zijn een en veertigste heeft hij daar toen zijn meesterwerk geschreven. Een herculische prestatie. Hij had weliswaar geen andere besognes maar aan de andere kant, hij miste daar de steun van een academische instelling. Hij bracht al zijn dagen in eenzaamheid werkend door in het British Museum, dezelfde plaats waar Karl Marx zoveel jaren eerder zijn meesterwerk schreef. In 1938 kwamen zijn ouders, die nog steeds in Duitsland woonden, hem in Londen bezoeken. Een wonder dat hun dat nog gelukt is. Norbert heeft ze gesmeekt om niet terug te gaan en bij hem in Londen te komen wonen. Maar zijn vader zei: ‘mij kunnen ze niks maken, ik heb nooit in mijn leven de wet overtreden, ik heb in Breslau als onbezoldigd adviseur voor de belastingdienst gewerkt, waarvoor ik zelfs een onderscheiding heb gekregen’. Ze zijn in volle onschuld teruggegaan naar hun vertrouwde huis in Breslau. Zijn vader is in 1940 een natuurlijke dood gestorven, zijn moeder is enkele jaren later opgepakt en vermoord. In 1939 kon Elias, nog net voor de oorlog, de twee dikke boekdelen waaruit zijn meesterwerk bestaat, slijten aan een Zwitserse uitgever.

Bovenstaande gegevens zijn voornamelijk ontleend aan zijn memoires, verschenen in: ‘De Geschiedenis van Norbert Elias’, aldaar pp. 93-165: ‘Notities bij mijn levensloop’. Dit boek bevat tevens het verslag van zeven uitvoerige gesprekken met hem over zijn leven: Heerma van Voss, A.J. en A. van Stolk, aldaar pp. 11-92. [3] Die gesprekken hebben plaatsgevonden in 1984, Elias was toen 87 jaar oud. Hij gaf te kennen dat hij nog altijd vond een belangrijke Boodschap voor de Wereld te hebben, waar de wereld helaas onvoldoende naar luisterde. ‘U hebt altijd een opmerkelijk groot zelfvertrouwen gehad’, zeggen zijn gesprekspartners.

Elias: ‘Ik weet niet of het opmerkelijk is, maar ik heb nooit betwijfeld of ik gelijk had.
Zij: ‘Het is toch opmerkelijk als iemand de zekerheid heeft dat wat hij zegt belangrijk is?’
Elias: ‘Ja, maar die zekerheid heb ik en had ik altijd, ook als die inging tegen de mensen die het voor het zeggen hadden. Daar ben ik wel een beetje trots op.’ Read more

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Imaging Africa: Gorillas, Actors And Characters

Africa is defined in the popular imagination by images of wild animals, savage dancing, witchcraft, the Noble Savage, and the Great White Hunter. These images typify the majority of Western and even some South African film fare on Africa.
Although there was much negative representation in these films I will discuss how films set in Africa provided opportunities for black American actors to redefine the way that Africans are imaged in international cinema. I conclude this essay with a discussion of the process of revitalisation of South African cinema after apartheid.

The study of post-apartheid cinema requires a revisionist history that brings us back to pre-apartheid periods, as argued by Isabel Balseiro and Ntongela Masilela (2003) in their book’s title, To Change Reels. The reel that needs changing is the one that most of us were using until Masilela’s New African Movement interventions (2000a/b;2003). This historical recovery has nothing to do with Afrocentricism, essentialism or African nationalisms. Rather, it involved the identification of neglected areas of analysis of how blacks themselves engaged, used and subverted film culture as South Africa lurched towards modernity at the turn of the century. Names already familiar to scholars in early South African history not surprisingly recur in this recovery, Solomon T. Plaatje being the most notable.

It is incorrect that ‘modernity denies history, as the contrast with the past – a constantly changing entity – remains a necessary point of reference’ (Outhwaite 2003: 404). Similarly, Masilela’s (2002b: 232) notion that ‘consciousness of precedent has become very nearly the condition and definition of major artistic works’ calls for a reflection on past intellectual movements in South Africa for a democratic modernity after apartheid. He draws on Thelma Gutsche’s (1972) assumption that film practice is one of the quintessential forms of modernity. However, there could be no such thing as a South African cinema under the modernist conditions of apartheid. This is where modernity’s constant pull towards the future comes into play (Outhwaite 2003). Simultaneous with the necessary break from white domination in film production, or a pull towards the future away from the conditions of apartheid, South Africans will need to re-acquire the ‘consciousness of precedent’, of the intellectual and cultural heritage of the New African Movement, such as is done in Come See the Bioscope (1997) which images Plaatjes’s mobile distribution initiative in the teens of the century. The Movement’s intellectual and cultural accomplishments in establishing a national culture in the context of modernity is a necessary point of reference for the African Renaissance to establish a national cinema in the context of the New South Africa (Masilela 2000b). Following Masilela (ibid.: 235), debates and practices that are of relevance within the New African Movement include:
1. the different structures of portrayal of Shaka in history by Thomas Mofolo and Mazisi Kunene across generic forms and in the context of nationalism and modernity;
2. the discussion and dialogue between Solomon T. Plaatje, H.I.E. Dhlomo, R.V. Selope Thema, H. Selby Msimang and Lewis Nkosi about the construction of the idea of the New African, concerning national identity and cultural identity;
3. the lessons facilitated by Charlotte Manye Maxeke and James Kwegyir Aggrey in making possible the connection between the New Negro modernity and New African modernity;
4. the discourse on the relationship between Marxism and modernity within the context of the Trotskyism of Ben Kies and I.B. Tabata and the Stalinism of Michael Harmel, Albert Nzula and Yusuf Mohammed Dadoo; and
5. the feminist political practices of Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, Phyllis Ntanatala and others.
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Robert Walser ~ Portrait und Erinnerungen

“Er hat in seinen Büchern mehr Dichtertum, als einige Dutzend Preisträger zusammen.” (Albin Zollinger) Biografisches über den Schweizer Schriftsteller sowie: Freunde und Schriftsteller berichten darüber, wie sie ihn erlebt haben (70er-Jahre).
Siehe auch die Playlist “Schweizer Schriftsteller und Dramatiker” hier:

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