Trichet rules out euro rule changes as crisis grows

European Central Bank (ECB) chief Jean-Claude TrichetFrankfurt  - European Central Bank (ECB) chief Jean-Claude Trichet ruled out on Thursday changes to the rules for joining the euro amid calls to help shield troubled Central and Eastern European economies from the global financial crisis.

"I would say that at this stage our position would be that it is extremely important that we do not change any framework," Trichet said at a press conference in Frankfurt following a meeting of the ECB's rate-setting council.

His comments follow signs of growing economic pressures in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, which at one point triggered a major sell-off of currencies and shares across the region leading to concerns about western European banks' exposure to the area.

The 10-year-old euro has been enjoying a newfound appeal as a result of the financial firestorm that has recently swept through world markets with the common currency suddenly seen as potential protection in a time of crisis.

But of the wave of Central and Eastern European states that have joined the EU in recent years, only Slovenia and Slovakia have been accepted as members of the euro.

"We have rules whether for belonging to the ERM2 (the first stage of euro membership) or for the euro, I would say that sticking to the rules as they are is very important for the stability of, I would say, the European Union as a whole," said Trichet.

"I would say it's not good to suggest that some are in such a weak situation that you would transform the rule for the sake of that situation. I trust really that it is important to stick to the present framework as it is," he said.

The ECB chief said there were no calls within the European Union (EU) for moves to consider loosening the criteria for joining the 16-member eurozone. dpa

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