By Martin Banks - 4th October 2011
At a time of big rises in the price of oil, this is sometimes forgotten
Outgoing European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet has called for "significantly" improved powers for the EU.
Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Trichet advocated more "political unity" in the EU.
He told a committee that this should include the establishment of an "executive branch", including a European "finance ministry".
Trichet also called for yet further "extensive" powers for the European parliament.
In what was his last formal appearance before the committee of economic and monetary affairs, he also predicted that economic growth in the eurozone in the coming months would be "very moderate".
But he praised the work of the ECB in maintaining price stability during the ongoing economic downturn.
Trichet was making his 35th and last appearance in parliament as part of the ECB's regular "monetary dialogue" meetings with MEPs over the last eight years.
Describing the occasion as "emotional", Trichet said he had always enjoyed a "fruitful" relationship with parliament.
He added, "It is sometimes forgotten that, despite the economic turbulence of recent times, the ECB has always delivered price stability."
He backed up the assertion by telling committee members that inflation in the eurozone had remained stable at around 2.17 per cent for several years.
"At a time of big rises in the price of oil, this is sometimes forgotten."
Turning to relations between the ECB and parliament, Trichet said the regular dialogue with the assembly was the "cornerstone" of the bank's independence.
"Let us remember that in the midst of the worst economic crisis since world war two, we can take pride in what Europe has achieved in the last 60 years," said Trichet, who will appear before parliament again next week in his new role as chairman of the EU systematic risk board.
Committee chairman Sharon Bowles, a UK MEP, praised Trichet's efforts at the helm of the ECB although she said the meeting was "tinged with sadness".