March 25, 2010 / 5:42 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-ECB's Trichet:Euro zone states must be more responsible

* Trichet says euro zone members must be more responsible

* Euro zone states must closely follow Maastricht treaty

* IMF, other bodies must not assume responsibilities

(Adds details, background)

PARIS, March 25 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund or any other body must not assume the responsibilities of euro zone governments in dealing with economic problems, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said on Thursday.

Speaking to French Public Senat television, Trichet said that members of the 16-nation euro zone needed to remain faithful to responsibilities laid out in the Maastricht Treaty, which incorporates stability and growth goals.

“Everything going in the direction of euro zone members shying away from responsibilities is bad in our eyes,” he said.

“If the IMF or some other body exercises the responsibility in lieu of the Eurogroup or instead of governments, it is evidently very, very bad,” he said.

EU leaders are hoping to reach consensus on a financial safety net for Greece on strict German conditions at a key summit on Thursday night [ID:nLDE62N2R1].

After weeks of public divisions over whether and how to help Greece, Merkel signalled she would accept a contingency rescue plan provided the International Monetary Fund is involved and EU partners agree to toughen the bloc’s budget deficit rules.

Some euro zone states, notably France, and ECB policymakers have previously opposed an IMF role, arguing such a move would underscore the single currency area’s inability to solve the deepest crisis in its 11-year existence on its own.

Europe was currently paying the very price for not taking its responsibilities seriously enough, Trichet said.

Euro zone governments should have been far more stringent in watching over stability and growth goals given that they share a common currency and goals, he said.

“The crux of our positions is that euro zone governments must not relinquish an inch of their current responsibility. On the contrary, they must be far more responsible still,” he said.

Trichet pointed to Greece as an example of a country that had shown negligence on budget issues.

“We see the result of past negligence. This said, it was negligence on the part of surveillance and also negligence on the part of the Greeks,” he said.

“The Greeks provided wrong figures, something that is absolutely unforgivable and must never be repeated,” he added. (Reporting by Julien Toyer; Writing by Tamora Vidaillet; Editing by Ron Askew)

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