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26-07-2012 14:29:00

France Welcomes Draghi Comments On Irreversibility Of Euro

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By William Horobin

PARIS--French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici welcomed Thursday comments made earlier by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi which suggested the central bank may be ready to embark on new measures to bring down borrowing costs for highly indebted euro-zone countries.

In a speech in London earlier Thursday, Draghi repeated his stance that the euro is irreversible, adding that if the level of bond yields hampers the transmission of monetary policy, it comes within the remit of the central bank to take action.

In the past, the ECB has bought government bonds on the secondary market to ensure a smooth transmission of its interest rates to the wider economy. Its Securities Markets Program still exists but has been dormant for several months now.

"I think this declaration is completely positive. The ECB, in complete independence, has a role to play in the consolidation of the whole system," Mr. Moscovici said at a press conference in Paris.

The French finance minister also urged the euro zone to accelerate towards finding a way to have bailout facilities intervene on secondary markets. At an EU summit in June, leaders gave the green light for such action but those decisions haven't come to fruition.

"This dimension of intervention on the markets shouldn't remain two lines in the conclusion of a EU summit," he said. "We must find better instruments, mechanisms and channels to implement it in an appropriate way depending on the situation in the coming weeks and months."

As market volatility has increased, pushing Spain's borrowing costs above 7% on 10-year bonds, France has fared well in recent weeks, even issuing short-dated debt at negative rates.

Mr. Moscovici said France's borrowing costs relative to others are at a "satisfactory" level and the government must preserve its credibility to keep those costs down.

Speaking at a press conference at the French finance ministry, Mr. Moscovici underscored France's target to bring the deficit down to 3% of gross domestic product next year from 5.2% of GDP in 2011.

In a wide-ranging press conference, Mr. Moscovici also said an agreement in principle is within reach with the European Commission for a solution to the problems of troubled Franco-Belgian lender Dexia (DEXB.BT) in France.

Dexia had reached an agreement earlier this year on the restructuring of its French municipal, pending operations, but its plans were suspended as the European Commission raised concerns about anti-competition issues.

Margit Feher and Noemie Bisserbe contributed to this article.

Write to William Horobin at william.horobin@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 26, 2012 08:29 ET (12:29 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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