ECB shrugs off French criticism, German support for prudence

PORTO, Portugal, Sept 15, 2007 (AFP) – European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet shrugged off on Saturday fresh French criticism of the ECB over its handling of recent financial market turmoil. EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia defended Juncker, saying he “deserves … our recognition as a president of the group that is dealing with the euro.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy accused the ECB of helping “speculators” and neglecting “entrepreneurs” by injecting billions of euros of liquidity into the financial system while not lowering its interest rates.

“Everybody knows that we are not facilitating in any respect those who behave improperly,” Trichet told journalists on the sidelines of a meeting of European finance ministers and central bankers.

“On the contrary we are protecting those who behave properly against the turbulence and drawbacks from those who behave improperly,” he added.

Likewise, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck rallied in support of the ECB, saying the central bank’s policy was “appropriate.”

Steinbrueck said that “the ECB’s action was widely welcomed” by finance ministers at the meeting in Porto, northern Portugal, and th