Mario Draghi, the ECB's President, was pleading last Wednesday for a European Europe, in a closed-door session with a hostile group of German parliamentarians. He was fending off Berlin's ceaseless attempts to capture the world's only truly independent central bank.
Europeans are lucky to have a man of Dr. Draghi's integrity and professional competence, a remarkable leader hailing from a country that is still home to Europe's true believers.
Here is the background to this latest episode in the ECB's long-running saga with German authorities.
Having thrown millions of Europeans into unemployment, poverty and destitution with the imposition of harsh fiscal austerity on countries already choking under recessionary pressures, Germany continues to challenge the ECB's conduct of independent policies with instruments and credit intermediation channels that are strictly within its mandate.
Draghi's master class
The struggle to dominate the ECB has long roots. People still remember the EU summit in Dublin in December 1996, when the French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl had to be physically separated as they were hurling insults at each other because Germans wanted to impose their man to lead the bank.
In spite of subsequent attempts to patch up the differences, the German quest for control of euro area monetary policies went on. And when it became clear that the ECB would not toe the German line, a fracas followed with protest resignations of German representatives to the ECB's governing council in February and September 2011.
To underscore its displeasure, Berlin also sued the ECB for allegedly transgressing its mandate in the German Constitutional Court and to The European Court of Justice. Germany lost these cases.