* Euro zone split over euro's level, to discuss at G20
* France wants joint position on euro exchange rate for G20
* G7 expected to issue statement cooling currency rhetoric
(Recasts; adds Moscovici, Dijsselbloem quotes)
By Robin Emmott and Leigh Thomas
BRUSSELS, Feb 11 France called on Monday for
coordinated action by the world's major economies to counter the
strength of the euro and avoid damaging an economic recovery,
but Europe's finance ministers said it was up to markets to
decide the currency's value.
French President Francois Hollande last week raised the
possibility of political interference in exchange rate policy
when he called for a medium-term target for the euro's value, a
move to counter its recent appreciation.
France's Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici reiterated
Hollande's message to his euro zone peers in Brussels and urged
"strong action", but appeared to win little support. Euro zone
ministers said the issue should be discussed by finance
ministers and central bankers from the world's 20 biggest
economies in Moscow on Friday and Saturday.
"We really have to take strong action at the international
level for stability and then all instruments can be used but in
a coordinated manner," Moscovici told a news conference.
Asked precisely what shape any intervention might take, he
said: "This is not about, to be clear, calling for pressure on
the European Central Bank ... or pushing for a currency war."
The strengthening euro is a source of tension between France
and Germany, the two countries at the heart of European
integration, because Berlin refuses to countenance governments'
involvement in managing exchange rates.
The euro has risen about 13 percent against the dollar since
touching $1.21 in July last year, although it has come off
recent highs since European Central Bank President Mario Draghi
indulged in some gentle verbal intervention last Thursday.
Germany has already rejected Hollande's initiative, and
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in Brussels
"that exchange rates should not be manipulated, that too high
flexibility is of course dangerous."
The newly appointed chairman of euro zone finance ministers,
Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, was also reluctant
to discuss the euro's value, saying the G20 was the place to do
After three years of a debt crisis during which many
investors and economists fretted about the very existence of the
European single currency, Moscovici acknowledged he preferred "a
strong euro to a dead euro."
But he warned that in France's case, if the euro continued
to appreciate at the current rate, it would lop 0.3 percentage
points off the country's economic growth - a significant impact
given that the French economy is likely to barely grow this
A stronger euro hurts exports because it makes them more
expensive abroad. It comes at a time when the 17-nation bloc is
relying on demand from Asia and the Americas to pull it out of
its second recession since 2009.
U.S. investment bank JP Morgan said in a study on Monday
that a 10 percent increase in the value of the exchange rate
could reduce total exports of goods and services by around 2.5
percent, although it said gauging the impact was difficult.
The call for a discussion of the euro's strength comes as
bond-buying policies of Japanese and U.S. central banks have
helped depress the value of the yen and the dollar and put
upward pressure on the euro.
Despite France's push for strong action on exchange rates,
there is little appetite elsewhere for anything other than
market-set currency rates.
To that end, the Group of Seven nations is considering
issuing a statement this week reaffirming its commitment to
"market-determined" exchange rates, two officials from the Group
of 20 biggest economies said on Monday.
The officials, from different countries, told Reuters that,
if agreed, the statement could be released around the time of
the meeting in Moscow. France is part of both the G7 and G20.
(Additional reporting by Claire Davenport John O'Donnell and
Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)