WRITTEN QUESTION No. 2170/96 by Gerhard SCHMID to the Commission. German Bundesbank gold
Official Journal C 365 , 04/12/1996 P. 0088
WRITTEN QUESTION E-2170/96 by Gerhard Schmid (PSE) to the Commission (2 August 1996)
Subject: German Bundesbank gold
After the European Central Bank (ECB) is set up, the national central banks of the Member States belonging to the Monetary Union must transfer a certain proportion of their monetary reserves to that bank.
1. What will happen to the gold holdings of the national central banks, and in particular the Bundesbank?
2. Must a certain proportion thereof also be transferred to the ECB?
3. How are these gold holdings valued?
Answer given by Mr de Silguy on behalf of the Commission (23 September 1996)
According to Article 105(2) third indent EC Treaty, one of the basic tasks to be carried out through the European system of central banks (ESCB) shall be 'to hold and manage the official foreign reserves of the Member States'. The transfer of foreign assets to the European central bank (ECB) is laid down by Article 30 of the statute of the ESCB and the ECB: '... the ECB shall be provided by the national central banks with foreign reserve assets, other than Member States' currencies, ECUs, IMF reserve positions and SDRs, up to an amount equivalent to ECU 50 000 million' (Article 30.1.). This means that the following types of assets are eligible for transfer to the ECB: currencies of third countries, currencies of non-participating Member States and gold. However, the requirement of transfer of gold is not expressly provided for. The decision on the amount and the composition of the foreign assets to be transferred has to be made by the Council of the ECB and therefore can only be made after the setting-up of the ECB in early 1998.
The non-transferred parts of the foreign reserve assets remain at the national central banks, whose free disposal is only limited by article 31.2. of the statute of the ESCB and ECB. Operations in the remaining foreign reserve assets and Member States'transactions with their foreign exchange working balances are, above a certain limit to be established by the ECB Council, subject to approval by the ECB. This provision will ensure the consistency of these operations with the exchange rate and monetary policies of the Community.
The question of the valuation of the foreign reserve assets is currently under discussion in the European monetary institute.