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“I don’t want these people anymore,” top central bank official Frank Elderson told an internal meeting, POLITICO can reveal. Lagarde says she stands by him.

FRANKFURT ― A top European Central Bank official stunned employees by saying people who don’t buy into the institution’s green objectives aren’t welcome to work there.

Frank Elderson, one of six members of the ECB’s executive board, told an internal meeting: “I don’t want these people anymore.”

His comments, verified by POLITICO, have sparked outrage among ECB staff, who described them as “authoritarian” and said they showed a free and open discussion about climate change ― and the role the bank should play in tackling it ― was no longer possible at the Frankfurt-based organization. 

At the meeting earlier this month, Elderson asked employees ― some in person, some online ― “Why would we want to hire people who we have to reprogram?  Because they came from the best universities, but they still don’t know how to spell the word ‘climate.’”

Anyone already working at the ECB should be retrained, Elderson added. He insisted he was “not threatening anyone,” and did not expand on what he meant by being able to “spell” climate.

The Dutchman’s remarks have broader significance because the ECB is embroiled in a debate ― internally and among Europe’s politicians ― over how much its policies should steer toward making the economy “greener,” or whether it should just stick to its main goal of keeping eurozone prices stable.

Diversity and inclusion

The comments drew an angry reaction from employees who took to a private chatroom for bank staff. Their responses were also seen by POLITICO.

Elderson, who is the bank’s climate czar and vice-chair of its supervisory arm, “killed the ideal of diversity and inclusion in one sentence,” said one member of staff. “I thought these underpinned the culture of this institution.” They described the Dutchman’s comments as “authoritarian.” 

Others warned his comments risked fostering “groupthink,” which would impair the ECB’s decision-making.

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By Michael