European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet
Stefan Grobe, Euronews
“There has been a recurrent problem — to be sure that we have the right figures [economic figures from Greece]. This is not tolerable.”
Stefan Grobe, at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, interviews its President Jean-Claude Trichet.
Euronews: “When were you first aware of the magnitude of the Greek crisis?”
Jean-Claude Trichet: “Well, we’ve had a problem, unfortunately, for a number of years, with the figures. As you know, there has been a recurrent problem — to be sure that we have the right figures. This is not tolerable. This should not be tolerated for one second more. I expect that the governments will decide, because we consider it an absolute must, that a European entity, say Eurostat, under maximum global rules of ethics as regards the collection of data, that would have the capacity to go on the spot and to have access to all information… that is something which is essential.”
Euronews: “Have you been personally disappointed by Greece dragging the entire euro zone into turmoil?”
Trichet: “This institution, since its setting up, has always told all governments (it is valid for Greece of course, but also for other governments), that the Stability and Growth Pact was absolutely essential, that it was a key feature of European Monetary Union. We had the Monetary Union, we are responsible for the Monetary Union. We have also in EMU the letter ‘e’, for Economic Union. And the Stability and Growth Pact, which was challenged at the time by a number of countries, I have had to fight [for], since I have been appointed in the name of all my colleagues of the governing council. The pact remains absolutely fundamental. […] With the six members (including me) of the executive board, and all the 16 governors of the national central banks, all decisions are collegial.”
Euronews: “The euro is not in danger?”
Trichet: “The euro is certainly not in danger, it is in good [hands]. But we must not be complacent. We have challenges, as all central banks in the world have. We all have to cope with the crisis. We all have to cope with the new challenges of the new times, and we all cooperate very actively and with full confidence with our friends of the other central banks, including of course the central bank of the United States of America.”
Euronews: “What is the medium-term and long-term outlook for our European economy?”
Trichet: “I would say that the main issue at stake as regards growth and job creation is to continue resolutely to engage in the structural reform that would elevate the potential growth of Europe. The crisis in this respect has been as an X-ray of the, I would say, the difficulty and perhaps the domains where we have to work a lot. It is true for Europe, it is true for the rest of the world, in the industrialised world. But we would certainly — my colleagues and myself — call for structural reforms, resolutely [for] structural reforms, in order to elevate our growth potential. At the present moment, we are in black figures but it [growth] is still modest, and we always say: let’s resolutely engage in reforms. As far as we are concerned, our fellow citizens can count on us [to] maintain stability, price stability, in the years to come.”
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