Euro is irreversible, strong and more want to join, Draghi says

FILE PHOTO: President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi listens during the news conference following the meeting of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank in Riga, Latvia June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

RIGA (Reuters) - European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi gave a robust defence of the euro currency on Thursday and said it would be damaging to even discuss the idea of Italy leaving the currency.

“The euro is the currency of 340 million people and enjoys now 74 percent support across the citizens of the euro area, and more countries want to join the euro today,” Draghi told a news conference after a regular meeting of the ECB’s Governing Council.

“You can take your conclusions, but one conclusion is that it’s irreversible because it’s strong, because people want it and because it is of no benefit to anybody to discuss (its) existence,” he said.

Some investors have been concerned that Italy’s new government of anti-establishment parties could seek to drag the country out of the euro, but Draghi said this possibility posed no threat to the euro itself.

“It really doesn’t pay at all to discuss the existence of something that’s irreversible. It can only create damages, and this holds true both ways ... That’s it,” he said.

Senior Italian cabinet members have sought to reassure markets in recent days by reaffirming their commitment to the single currency.

Reporting by Francesco Canepa; writing by Hugh Lawson; editing by Larry King