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Speech by Mario Draghi, President of the ECB,
at the Conference De Nederlandsche Bank 200 years: Central banking in the next two decades,
Amsterdam, 24 April 2014

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you very much for inviting me to speak at this conference marking the bicentenary of De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB). Congratulations to you, Klaas, and to all the staff of the DNB!

We are tasked today with reflecting on central banking in the next two decades, and the theme I would like to talk about is central bank transparency and communication. This is not only because transparency and communication has grown ever more important for central banks over the past twenty years, and look set to become even more important over the two decades to come. It is also because the Netherlands seems a fitting setting for such a discussion.

As you know well, this country has a long history of transparency – households in the Netherlands are renowned for keeping open their curtains. The classic explanation is that people do this for the benefit of others: with nothing to hide, they are happy to grant passers-by a look inside. Another explanation I have heard is that people do it for themselves: in dark Northern European climates, they simply want to let more light into their houses. But whatever the motivation, what matters is that an open curtain benefits both those on the outside and those on the inside. The same is true for us as central banks.

A transparent central bank serves the general public, by improving understanding of its actions and accountability for its decisions. And a transparent central bank contributes to its own mission, by steering expectations and making its monetary policy more effective. Let me therefore begin by explaining how central banks across advanced economies, and the ECB in particular, have taken up the challenge of transparency and openness.

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