Ministers fail to halt euro's rise

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The Independent Online

Moves to stem the rise of the euro fell flat yesterday when Europe's single currency climbed against the dollar despite a declaration from eurozone finance ministers designed to damp down its value.

Moves to stem the rise of the euro fell flat yesterday when Europe's single currency climbed against the dollar despite a declaration from eurozone finance ministers designed to damp down its value.

The gains in the euro yesterday prompted fresh fears over the impact on exports, as France's Finance Minister, Francis Mer, highlighted the threat posed by sharp currency swings, adding: "We cannot accept such sudden changes."

After a meeting on Monday night, finance ministers from the 12-strong eurozone issued a rare written statement expressing concern about exchange rate swings in the wake of the euro's record-breaking surge against the dollar. The declaration said the ministers "particularly stress stability and we are concerned about excessive exchange rate moves".

However, the impact of the statement may have been undermined by Charlie McCreevy, the Finance Minister of Ireland, which holds the EU presidency, who added that he and his colleagues had not discussed any "specific action" to control the single currency. The euro fell 5 cents last Friday from a record high early last week of $1.29, after concerns expressed by the European Central Bank over the high rate. It headed up again yesterday, rising more than 2 cents to $1.258.

The G7 nations meet in Florida next month, but the US is expected to offer little practical help to Europeans worried that the surging euro could smother hopes of growth. M. Mer said: "For the moment it's the rest of the world that's helping the Americans, with the deficits we all know. The issue is about sharing this matter."

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