Germany stresses ECB independence after Sarkozy comments

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert attend as news conference of Chile's President Sebastian Pinera and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery in Berlin, October 22, 2010. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany on Monday rebuffed calls by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to extend the mandate of the European Central Bank (ECB) to include supporting economic growth, citing the central bank’s independence.

“The German position on the ECB and its independent role is known and is also known in Paris and has been unchanged for a long time,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.

“Just like the French government we see the need for sustainable growth in Europe and have taken a number of initiatives with the French government for exactly that reason.”

The ECB mandate is to maintain price stability in the euro zone and does not include provisions for supporting or encouraging growth.

Sarkozy, running for re-election this month, called in a campaign speech on Sunday for a debate on extending the ECB’s mandate to support economic growth.

Reporting by Annika Breidthardt