Sarko calls for ECB mandate to include promoting GDP growth

FRENCH president Nicolas Sarkozy wants the European Central Bank (ECB) to add promoting growth to its mandate in order to counter what he says is an inflexible attitude at the Bank.

Speaking during a re-election campaign in which Sarkozy is trailing his socialist rival François Hollande in the polls, Sarkozy was keen to play up French influence in Frankfurt.

“As for the European Central Bank’s role in supporting growth, we, the French, are going to start a debate,” he said at a rally.

“If we do not change Europe, if we do not create a Europe of production, of investment, we cannot have growth. If the ECB does not support growth, we will not have enough growth.”

His attack on the ECB brings into the open a debate that happened behind closed doors last year, when France urged the Bank to pump money into the Eurozone to avoid a collapse of the financial system.

Germany and the Bank’s hawkish French then-president Jean-Claude Trichet resisted the call for the ECB to take a bigger role, arguing that its only mandate is to limit inflation and arguing that doing more would make Europe’s financial system over-reliant on the Bank. But when Italian Mario Draghi took the helm last autumn, the ECB’s position changed and it soon pumped €1 trillion into bank capital markets to hold off a credit crunch.