* Borrowing costs hover near record lows after ECB move
* ECB, IMF, European Commission tell Europe to reform now
* Reforms implementation first, deficit flexibility later
By Ingrid Melander and Annika Breidthardt
LUXEMBOURG, June 20 Very low borrowing costs
give Europe an excellent opportunity to carry out reforms
urgently needed to bolster growth and public finances, ECB
executive board member Benoit Coeure said on Friday.
With the worst of the financial crisis now over and fears of
a break-up of the euro zone all but forgotten, governments in
highly indebted countries from Italy to Ireland are finding it
ever easier and cheaper to borrow.
Irish bond yields, for example, dipped to a record low last
week on a Standard & Poor's upgrade and the wider peripheral
euro zone debt continued to benefit from fresh European Central
Bank stimulus announced earlier this month.
"The window of opportunity is there. Market conditions are
extraordinary, this cannot be taken for granted so action on
structural reform is urgent," Coeure told reporters in the
margins of an EU finance ministers' meeting on Friday.
The ECB cut interest rates to record lows on June 5th,
launching a series of measures to pump money into the sluggish
euro zone economy and pledging to do more if needed to fight off
the risk of Japan-like deflation.
The ECB's decision has driven short-term money market rates
to historic lows, with the overnight bank-to-bank Eonia rate
tumbling close to zero.
"Monetary conditions and financial conditions are very
benign, very favourable. The ECB has indicated that rates will
stay low for an extended period of time and this creates a
window of opportunity to reform," Coeure said.
His call added to pressure on EU member states to do more to
tackle long-standing structural problems after the International
Monetary Fund told the euro zone late on Thursday that: "With
the benign market environment, now is the time to implement
reforms to increase growth."
In its annual review of the euro zone, the IMF said policy
efforts should focus on supporting demand, balance sheet repair
and completion of the banking union and structural reforms.
It called for reforms of the labour market, saying taxation
should be adapted to lower hiring costs, encouraging capital
market financing alternatives.
(Additiional reporting by Martin Santa; Editing by Jeremy