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Draghi, Juncker Hold 'Constructive Talks" on European Economy

FILE - Incoming president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker answers journalists questions during a press briefing in Strasbourg, July 15, 2014.
FILE - Incoming president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker answers journalists questions during a press briefing in Strasbourg, July 15, 2014.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi held talks with incoming European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday, against the backdrop of a debate among euro zone policymakers about their fiscal rules.

"It was a constructive exchange of views on the current state of the European economy,'' an ECB spokesman said after the meeting in Luxembourg.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has been leading calls to move from austerity to looser EU budget rules. His country holds the EU's rotating presidency for the second half of this year and is trying to secure influence over the new European Commission, to be led by Juncker.

Draghi, who brought the euro zone back from the brink of break-up in 2012 with his pledge to do "whatever it takes'' to save the euro, has called on countries to respect the EU's Fiscal Compact on reducing public debt.

In a speech in London last month, the ECB president appeared to push back against Renzi's calls for flexibility, arguing that fiscal rules should not be viewed as a "painful accounting exercise.''

Juncker and Draghi met as ECB Governing Council members gathered in Frankfurt.

The ECB council is expected to leave interest rates on hold when it meets on Thursday, waiting to assess the impact of new stimulus it is launching next month and that it hopes will lift inflation off rock-bottom levels.

Ahead of the meeting, French President Francois Hollande said the ECB and EU economic powerhouse Germany must do more to boost growth and fight a "real deflationary risk'' in Europe.

The French government has started warning that it might be difficult to meet an EU deadline to bring its public deficit under 3 percent of economic output next year, but Hollande told newspaper Le Monde: "We are not asking for any leniency from Germany but we are asking it to do more to boost growth.''

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