Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : The independence of the European Central Bank is legally defined in very clear and strict terms. Although most scholars in economics describe this status as a crucial condition of the Bank's efficiency, it is frequently criticised by politicians and political scientists as a contradiction to democratic theory.This paper will examine the emerging practice of parliamentary control of the ECB, from its installation until September 1999, in order to understand which kind of ‘accountability’ is elaborated in this unprecedented relationship between ‘politicians’ and lsquo;technocrats’. It will first show that MEPs have rejected all forms of parliamentary control based on a logic of constraint. It will then describe the numerous institutional links created between the Bank and the EU political organs to favour their cooperation. Finally it will analyse the recent initiatives taken by MEPs to influence central bankers and to convince them to submit their decisions to public debates.The hypothesis developed from these empirical analyses is that a new kind of ‘accountability’ is emerging in the EU. From a horizontal point of view (inter-institutional controls), it is based on influence rather than traditional parliamentary constraint. From a vertical point of view (accountability to citizens), it focuses on responsiveness rather than on classic responsibility.