ECB policymakers face protesters

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The Independent Online

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), risked the wrath of protesters in Spain yesterday with his backing for the austerity programme which has plunged the nation into a double-dip recession.

Policymakers faced thousands of demonstrators in Barcelona during one of the ECB's twice-yearly away-days from its Frankfurt headquarters. The central bank, which expects a "gradual" recovery for the eurozone economy this year, held its main interest rate at a record low 1 per cent yesterday.

Spain is in its second recession in three years, although Mariano Rajoy's administration is pushing through €27bn (£22bn) in cuts this year to quell rising market panic.

Mr Draghi told a press conference: "The government of Spain has made a very significant effort in policy reform. It's a series of reforms that... have been taken in a very short time. I think we have to acknowledge this significant effort."