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Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel urged the European Central Bank to raise interest rates to curb inflation, which he said has been causing him sleepless nights, according to remarks published on Thursday.

Bluemel said he suspects that ECB policy may be constrained by the high indebtedness of some euro-area member states. “It’s not unjustified to accuse the ECB of avoiding rate hikes because of these states,” according to excerpts of an interview with Profil magazine. 

“That would be a betrayal of Europeans,” he said.

The central bank, which will announce its latest monetary-policy decisions on Thursday, has maintained that the current surge in inflation is transitory. The ECB has poured hundreds of billions of euros into financial markets to prop up the euro-area economy during the pandemic, with the support notably helping heavily-indebted members such as Italy. 

While Austria has repeatedly called for a return to stricter budget rules across the currency bloc, the minister’s plea for higher interest rates is an unusually direct appeal for a change in monetary policy from a government official.


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