The Observatorio del Banco Central Europeo (OBCE) was born at the beginning of the European Monetary Union.
Following the experience of Fed’s watchers in the US, a group of Spanish economists decided to create a nonprofit association to watch the new central bank of the Eurozone, and to promote the European public debate on policy issues related with the Eurozone.
One of OBCE’s first initiatives was to create a shadow ECB Committee (Comite de seguimiento del BCE), a group of experts on monetary and financial issues that, prior to every meeting of the ECB council, discussed and voted on the decision that the ECB should take. The composition of this group has changed over time. Their discussions have been published by Expansion, a Spanish financial journal.
In 2000, the OBCE decided to create the Bernacer Prize, to recognize the work of young European economists and to stimulate research on Eurozone macroeconomics and financial issues. Modelled on the John Bates Clark Medal, prizewinners are economists from the European Union under the age of 40.
The prize nominations are assessed by an independent Selection Committee made up of recognized members of the academic community. Since the start of the prize, the Selection Committee has been chaired by a member of the ECB’s executive committee. The fist one was Otmar Issing, the Chief Economist of the European Central Bank in 2001; 2002–2010: Lucas Papademos, Vice-President of the ECB;2011–2018: Vítor Constâncio, Vice-President of ECB; and 2019-2010 : Luis de Guindos, Vice-President of ECB
The prize includes a diplom and a cash award of €30,000. From the first edition of the prize to the 10th edition, the prize was sponsored by Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo (CAM). Since the 11th edition the sponsor has been Banco Santander.