Eurozone contagion threat 'overstated'

Juergen Stark resigned from the ECB last year

A former senior official at the European Central Bank (ECB) has said that the risk of eurozone debt woes spreading, the so-called contagion threat, has always been "overstated".

But Juergen Stark, who resigned last year as the ECB's chief economist, told the BBC's HARDTalk that it was too early to say if Greece will be able to meet its austerity targets.

He said this would be known in six months time.

Greece has now received two bailouts.

On Friday, eurozone finance ministers agreed to increase the size of the area's rescue funds.

They agreed to boost the joint lending power of the "firewall" from 500bn euros ($668bn; £416bn) to 800bn euros ($1.1tn; £667bn).

Mr Stark said: "In my view, from the very start the contagion question was overstated.

"Now with the reform programmes underway and being implemented in Ireland, being implemented in Portugal, also the new political process in Italy, and the progress made so far in Spain, from this point of view, contagion is limited."

Mr Stark announced his resignation in September 2011 because he disagreed with the bank's purchasing of sovereign bonds from eurozone nations.

The edition of HARDtalk featuring the interview with Juergen Stark will be broadcast on BBC News Channel on Monday 2 April at 04:30 GMT, and Tuesday 3 April at 00:30 GMT.

It will also be shown on BBC World on Tuesday 3 April at the following GMT times: 03:30, 08:30, 15:30, 20:30.

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