ECB Should Take Euro, Oil into Account: France

The European Central Bank should take into account a range of factors such as the strong euro and high oil prices when setting monetary policy, France's Secretary of State for Europe Jean-Pierre Jouyet said on Wednesday.

In an interview with LCI television, Jouyet declined to be drawn on what he wanted the ECB to do at Thursday's monetary policy meeting and only referred to France's main concerns, including the euro's rise to record highs.

"The ECB should take into account... all the parameters. The parameters are known, there is a strong euro compared with other currencies, not just the dollar but also Asian currencies," he said.

"There is also the rise in the cost of oil. These are the two main parameters which should be taken into account by the European Central Bank."

Paris has been more forthright in the past about its views that the ECB should do more to promote growth and jobs but this provoked other euro zone countries, notably Germany, to leap to the defence of the independent central bank.

Jouyet further tempered his comments by saying he had confidence in ECB: "I have confidence in the seriousness and wisdom of the ECB in this respect."

The ECB is expected to leave its key refinancing rate unchanged at 4.0 percent this week, according to financial market prices.

Asked whether the ECB could be held responsible if France missed the government's growth forecasts, of 2.0-2.5 percent for 2007 and 2008, Jouyet said:

"You can't hold (ECB chief) Jean-Claude Trichet responsible for the country's growth assumptions which are dependent on a lot of elements. What is true is that you have to take into account the international monetary situation which could weigh on a certain number of industrial sectors."