Euro zone finance ministers and central bankers have held informal talks on the region’s economy in Helsinki ahead of a summit involving all 25 EU countries. Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker, re-elected head of the euro zone finance ministers group, said they “remain reasonably optimistic about growth prospects in 2006.”
European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet repeated his optimistic assessment of the zone’s economy and strong hint of another interest rate rise next month. He said: “We have revised up both growth in 06 and 07 and the ranges for not only for growth but also for inflation. I explained to the ministers that strong vigilance in the present period was of the essence so as to ensure that risks to price stability are contained.”
Trichet, in response to a call from Juncker for the finance minister to work more closely with the European Central Bank, warned that governments must respect the bank’s independence. He said he wouldn’t tolerate any political interference eroding the bank’s autonomy in setting monetary policy for the euro region.