Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Trichet Bites Back

Central Banking Publications - www.centralbanknet.com - 2 January 2004

By Benedict Mander

Jean-Clause Trichet proved that he can bare his teeth while still maintaining his legendary charm during his confirmation hearings as president of the ECB before the European Parliament in September. At the end of his gruelling two hour inquisition. Charles Tannock, a particularly well spoken British Conservative MEP, challenged Trichet head on. "As an enarque (a graduate of ENA, Ecole National d'Administration) the idea that you are not part of the French political elite - encompassing the civil service and the political classes - is a little disingenuous to say the least" was his opening salvo. Then came what Tannock no doubt hoped would be his killer blow. "You have also, as a haut fonctionnaire, been cautious in your approach and very supportive of state dirigisme."

Trichet rebutted this, pointing out that as chief of staff at the French Treasury from 1986 to 1987 he had been extremely active in radically reforming the French economy: "And as for being a member of some monolithic French "establishment" that too is a misunderstanding," he continued, "I dare not ask, Sir, whether you went to Oxford or Cambridge." Tannock went to Oxford.