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ECB is ready to act but governments must reform, says Draghi

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi gives a speech during an economic conference organized by the conservative Christian Demo
European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi gives a speech during an economic conference organized by the conservative Christian Demo

PARIS (Reuters) - The European Central Bank is ready to take fresh action when needed but its monetary policy cannot create real economic growth, which governments need to support with reforms, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Wednesday.

"In short, the ECB has been very active in responding to the crisis," Draghi told committees in the French lower house of parliament. "And we stand ready to act again when needed."

Draghi's comments reinforced his message on Tuesday, when he tried to douse expectations that the ECB could unwind its crisis-fighting policies after the U.S. Federal Reserve last week set out a plan to slow its bond-buying stimulus.

But Draghi said the ECB could only do so much.

"The ECB has done as much as it can to stabilize markets and support the economy," he said. "Now governments and parliaments need to do all they can to raise growth potential."

"Monetary policy cannot create real economic growth," he added. "If growth is stalling because the economy is not producing enough or because firms have lost competitiveness, this is beyond the power of the central bank to fix."

Draghi pressed governments to do more to support growth by passing reforms.

"These include reducing barriers to entry for new firms and young people, and removing burdens on business like complex tax and labor laws or distortionary regulations," he said. "Reforms to the labor market are also essential".

He also pressed governments to push ahead with their plans for a European banking union.

"Banking Union is essential to ensure that we make permanent the progress made in reintegrating financial markets," he said. "It has two indispensable elements: a strong Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) and a strong Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM)."

(Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Leigh Thomas; writing by Paul Carrel)

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