EU commissioner tell governments to keep out of Central Bank decisions

MADRID, Sept 3, 2007 (AFP) – EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia on Monday called on EU states to respect the independence of the European Central Bank (ECB) over monetary policy and setting interest rates. Also Monday, Almunia said he believed the current crisis in the US subprime mortgage market would not have a discernable effect on EU growth in 2007, but might shave “a few percentage points” off the 2008 figure. “Everyone has a right to his opinion on monetary policy and on interest rates but nobody should put pressure on the (central) bank,” Spaniard Almunia told an economic forum in Madrid.

He was referring to recent indications by some governments in the eurozone, including France, that they would favour a softer line on rates after a series of recent rises given the current turbulence on financial markets.

“I have no idea of what the final outcome will be but one must wait for the Central Bank to take the decision it deems appropriate as it has done in the past,” Almunia said.

“Everyone has to respect the fact that the Central Bank takes its decisions wholly independently. A central bank with an independent statute which feels under pressure would be liable to show that it is independen