News & Politics

Dutch MP Clashes With European Central Bank President

President of European Central Bank Mario Draghi listens to questions as the Euro logo is reflected in his glasses during a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, following a meeting of the ECB governing council concerning the further strategies in the European financial crisis. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Recently, I mentioned Thierry Baudet and his new party, Forum for Democracy, in an article here at PJM, explaining what American conservatives who want to launch a new third party can learn from him.

Baudet has now made international headlines because of a confrontation with Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank. Draghi visited the Dutch Parliament yesterday to take questions from MPs on current ECB policies (such as quantitative easing) and about the future of the euro. In one exchange, Baudet confronted Draghi about statements he made earlier this year about Italy. If Italy decided to leave the eurozone, Draghi said in January, it would “have to settle the bill first,” meaning it would have to pay back the many billions of euros it “got” from Brussels.

Well, Baudet asked, if we follow that same line of reasoning, wouldn’t that mean that the Netherlands — which is paying far more than it receives — would have to get money back if it left the euro behind and reintroduced the Dutch guilder? “As we, the Netherlands, now have a surplus of about €100bn, does this by your own words mean that if the Netherlands decides to leave the eurozone,” Baudet asked, “which is one of the key points of my party’s program, we would get back €100m [he meant billion, not million] from the southern countries in the eurozone according to your views?”

You’d think so, wouldn’t you? After all, if Italy has to pay back the money it got from the European Central Bank, then a country like the Netherlands should get its own money back from the ECB. It has to go both ways.

To the surprise of exactly no one in the room, Draghi didn’t want to answer the question. “The euro is irrevocable, and this is the treaty. I will not speculate on hypotheses that have no ground in the present treaty,” he said.

But wait a minute: that’s exactly what he did in January when he thought it smart to threaten and bully Italy. Baudet said:

You said you didn’t want to speculate on about the possibility of the eurozone falling apart. But isn’t that precisely what you did in January when you were saying, “If Italy leaves, it will have to settle the bill.”

He continued:

You were actually speculating about the breaking up of the eurozone, and wouldn’t it be intellectually fair to have the same principles if the Netherlands decides to leave?

Again Draghi refused to answer the question. Instead, he went on to sing the praises of the euro which, apparently, has been the greatest thing to ever happen to the Netherlands since klompen (wooden shoes) or windmills.

Watch the exchange between Baudet and Draghi: