Bundesbank commemorates Hans Tietmeyer

The Bundesbank has held a colloquium in memory of its former President Hans Tietmeyer, who passed away on 27 December 2016 at the age of 85.

Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann paid tribute to Mr Tietmeyer, calling him "the president who ensured that European monetary union was designed with the Bundesbank's tradition of stability in mind". Speaking before more than 100 invited guests, Mr Weidmann particularly emphasised Mr Tietmeyer's steadfastness, strength and tenacity, noting that this steadfastness had earned Mr Tietmeyer a great deal of admiration, and continues to do so.

A watchful eye over the interests of monetary stability

Mr Weidmann recalled that Mr Tietmeyer's years at the Bundesbank were characterised from the outset by preparations for European economic and monetary union. Already at the beginning of the 1970s he participated in the Werner Group, which set out a plan for the introduction of a single currency. Even though this plan was shelved, in substantive terms it was very similar to the later Maastricht Treaty, Mr Weidmann explained.

Besides advocating a stable monetary union, Mr Tietmeyer was always committed to ensuring that the convergence criteria, which a country must fulfil in order to join the euro area, were complied with. He therefore warned against a relaxation of efforts once the euro was introduced. "The monetary union will not experience only sunny days. There will be rain and storms, too," said Mr Weidmann, quoting the former Bundesbank President. "Today we are all too aware of how true that is," noted Mr Weidmann.

Mr Tietmeyer never lost sight of the importance of stability in European monetary policy matters, said Mr Weidmann. The founding of the Financial Stability Forum in 1999, of which Mr Tietmeyer was a driving force, was therefore "almost visionary", said Mr Weidmann, in tribute to his predecessor's work. Its successor organisation, the Financial Stability Board, is now the key forum for international discussions on financial stability, he added. Mr Weidmann reminded the audience that "without this body, conceived by Hans Tietmeyer, the considerable progress made by the international community in recent years would not have been possible".

Forward-looking European

Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who also spoke at the colloquium, called Mr Tietmeyer a "forward-looking European" who fought for a successful economic and monetary union in Europe with skill, tenacity and a pronounced sense of responsibility. Mr Schäuble emphasised stability and continuity as Mr Tietmeyer's defining characteristics, noting that Mr Tietmeyer always remained on track and didn't shy away from conflicts if the situation demanded. This single-mindedness and adherence to principles was regarded as hard going by some critics, said Mr Schäuble. "But if you want to be as successful as Hans Tietmeyer was for our country and for Europe in reconciling stability, on the one hand, and change, on the other, you won't cut it without putting in hard work."

Mr Schäuble stressed that Mr Tietmeyer was not the proponent of cruel capitalism that some had labelled him. On the contrary, the social market principles were a recurring theme throughout his life, said Mr Schäuble, with individual initiative and solidarity being his guiding principles in this regard. "Not only did Hans Tietmeyer see himself as a public servant – as an advocate of the public's interest – he also acted in this spirit," noted Mr Schäuble.

Far-sighted economist

Former President of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet recalled some parallels between his career and that of Mr Tietmeyer, noting that he had worked very closely with the former Bundesbank President between 1987 and 1990. This period was very important for stabilising the relationship between the Deutsche Mark and the French franc, he said. Even in difficult times, notably German reunification and the period before the introduction of the euro, Mr Tietmeyer always played an important role in solving problems, said Mr Trichet. Mr Tietmeyer's key objectives were monetary stability, independence and taking a long-term approach, explained Mr Trichet, adding that "he was a far-sighted economist and an absolute European".

Time and again, Mr Tietmeyer pointed out the importance of economic and fiscal governance in the euro area, Mr Trichet said. The former ECB President stressed that he, too, had always been a proponent of these principles, which is why he was dubbed "Tietmeyer's clone" – a nickname that he was proud to accept, admitted Mr Trichet.