Duisenberg still to decide on position


The president of the European Central Bank, Mr Wim Duisenberg, said in an interview released yesterday he has still not decided whether and when to step down from his position.

In an interview with the German daily Die Welt due for publication today, the 66-year-old Dutchman said he would "take a decision at the right time" and that "a date has not yet been set".

Mr Duisenberg was chosen as the head of the bank which oversees the euro currency in 1998 after an acrimonious row with France, which wanted its own candidate, Bank of France Governor Jean-Claude Trichet, in the job.

French President Jacques Chirac said the appointment had been agreed on the understanding that Mr Duisenberg would give up his position half way through his eight-year mandate, in mid-2002. Mr Duisenberg denied at the time such a deal had been struck.

Mr Duisenberg told Die Welt it would "not necessarily take eight years to build a team to run the bank"

Meanwhile, the French Finance Minister has said the euro has a "significant" potential for appreciation against the dollar that would eventually be demonstrated because of the euro zone's economic power.

"When I see the fundamental elements of the European economy . . . I think there is a potential for the euro's appreciation regarding its external value which is significant and which will reveal itself over time," Laurent Fabius told a news conference on the switchover to the euro.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in his New Year's address today that he understands German fears about the euro but that the new currency will usher in better times.