A German MP has said it is “a serious mistake” that Malta and Cyprus have the same voting power as Germany on the council of the Europ-ean Central Bank.

Frank Schaeffler, a Free Democrat dissenter in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition, passed the remark as he was making a case for a reform of the council’s voting system.

The FDP is a junior partner in Ms Merkel’s coalition government.

“We need a reform of the voting system in the ECB Council. That Cyprus and Malta have as many votes as Germany is a serious mistake,” he said.

In reaction, a spokesman for the Maltese Finance Ministry downplayed the comment, saying it was the personal opinion of an MP and not the German government’s position. He added that Malta was respecting all the rules.

Mr Schaeffler is one of many German lawmakers who are criticising the way the Italian European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, is leading the ECB.

The dissent seems to have grown when Mr Draghi announced the bank may start buying government debt to reduce crippling Spanish and Italian borrowing costs.

Fed up with bailing out eurozone states, some Germans fear a new ECB bond-buying programme would amount to financing governments – which the bank is not supposed to do. They also argue it would ease pressure on governments to cut debt.

Several lawmakers in Ms Merkel’s coalition government are demanding radical reform of the bank’s voting structure in order to strengthen Germany ’s influence.

The ECB’s Governing Council is the main decision-making body of the euro system. It comprises all the members of the executive board of the ECB as well as the governors and presidents of all the national central banks of the eurozone. Each of these has one vote.

“We need a new alignment of voting weights in the ECB’s decision-making committees according to the proportion of liability (a country takes on),” conservative lawmaker and eurosceptic Klaus-Peter Willsch was quoted as saying by the German media yesterday.

“As the main creditor, Germany must get a veto right in all questions,” he said, adding Mr Draghi had strayed from his mandate of securing monetary stability.

However, not all are in agreement. Senior Christian Democrat (CDU) Michael Meister dismissed the reform debate, saying it was nothing but an illusion.

“There is no question of changing the ECB at the moment. So this is an illusional discussion,” he told Reuters.

It is highly unlikely that the ECB will change its operating rules. Ms Merkel has given the nod to the bank’s bond-buying plans and made clear she is not concerned about any potential threat to the ECB’s independence.

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