PARIS French President Nicolas Sarkozy, running for re-election in a week's time, said in a campaign speech on Sunday that he wanted to open a debate on extending the mandate of the European Central Bank (ECB) to support economic growth.
"As for the European Central Bank's role in supporting growth, we, the French, are going to start a debate," Sarkozy told tens of thousands of supporters at the central Place de la Concorde square in Paris.
"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," he said.
The ECB's mandate is to maintain price stability in the euro zone and does not include provisions for supporting or encouraging growth.
Sarkozy, who was part of the push behind the ECB's new lending program to banks that helped calm market turmoil over the bloc's debt woes, appeared to be responding to calls from his Socialist rival Francois Hollande who wants Europe to tack pro-growth clauses to its new budget stability treaty.
Sarkozy is fighting an uphill battle ahead of the two-round election starting April 22, with polls placing Hollande up to 10 percentage points ahead for a May 6 runoff.
(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)