21 Nov 2011

Split over role of ECB in crisis

12:09 pm on 21 November 2011

Europe's politicians are split over whether the European Central Bank should help shore up the continent's balance sheet.

New ECB president Mario Draghi has warned there are risks in stretching the resources too thinly.

In Frankfurt on Friday, Mr Draghi expressed impatience with the lack of progress by European leaders, saying they have been too slow in coming up with their own solutions.

"Where is the implementation of these long-standing decisions? We should not be waiting any longer," he said at a European banking conference.

In his speech, Mr Draghi suggested the ECB's main job remained to ensure long-term low inflation.

"Credibility implies that our monetary policy is successful in anchoring inflation expectations over the medium and longer term," he said.

He called for governments to play their role in tackling the debt crisis through "solid public finances and structural reforms", as well as reforms to the way the eurozone works.

Investors and the ECB are awaiting details of how the size of the European Financial Stability Facility will be boosted to 1 trillion euros ($US1.3 trillion). The EFSF is the eurozone bailout fund.

Earlier in the week, the head of the Bundesbank in Germany openly opposed the ECB coming to the rescue of Italy and Spain.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reinforced that stance on Thursday: "If politicians think the ECB can solve the euro crisis, then they are mistaken," she said.

The BBC reports Mr Draghi's speech appears to support her position.