France, Germany pledge to defend independent ECB

TOULOUSE, France, July 16, 2007 (AFP) – France and Germany agree on the need to keep the European Central Bank free of political meddling, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday.

“We are both in agreement on the fact that the European Central Bank is independent. It is very important,” Merkel told a joint news conference with President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy has repeatedly complained about the strength of the euro, arguing that it undermines exports and slows economic growth.

But the president, who has called for more political oversight of the euro’s exchange rates, endorsed Merkel’s statement, saying “France supports the independence of the ECB.”

“The problem is not the value of the euro, but the value of the other currencies,” said Sarkozy, who reiterated his view that Europe was the victim of “monetary dumping” by the US dollar and other currencies.

Merkel and Sarkozy met in the southwest city of Toulouse to iron out differences over the management structure of the European aerospace group EADS and its troubled subsidiary Airbus. The leaders agreed on a new streamlined leadership structure that did away with the dual management often cited as the roo