October 30, 2019 / 6:54 PM / 17 days ago

ECB must dispel impression of arrogance: Lautenschlaeger

FRANKFURT, Oct 30 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank needs to simplify its message and take it directly to the people to dispel a growing perception that it is part of an arrogant elite, outgoing board member Sabine Lautenschlaeger said in a farewell speech on Wednesday.

The ECB has long been accused of using language even university graduates struggle to understand. But ECB chief Mario Draghi resisted change for years, arguing that simplifying the way the bank speaks would make the institution more political, open to political attacks.

“Do good and talk about it – in simple and accessible language – should be the motto here,” Lautenschlaeger, Germany’s representative on the board said.

“We should not be communicating through complex facts, coefficients and rules. This only reinforces the impression that the EU is an arrogant elite that already knows all the answers,” she added.

Having unsuccessfully opposed several rounds of stimulus, Lautenschlaeger resigned last month with more than two years left on her term.

She will leave the same day as Draghi, just before Christine Lagarde, who has championed simpler, more accessible communication, takes over leadership of the bank.

Arguing for the need to fight climate change, another issue given high priority by Lagarde, Lautenschlaeger said there was plenty the ECB could do.

“First, the ECB can contribute to the development of tools and methods that can be used to identify, quantify and mitigate climate-related risks in the financial system,” she said. “Second, the ECB can use its investment portfolio to help fight climate change.”

In a speech focusing on European integration, Lautenschlaeger also called on the bloc to finally finish the banking and capital market unions, initiatives held back in part by her native Germany over fears that the German taxpayer could become liable for the fiscal irresponsibility of others. (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi Editing by Peter Graff)

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