European Central Bank head says EU integration proceeding despite 'no' votes

BEIJING (AP) - European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said Tuesday that Europe's move toward a single market was on track despite recent "no'' votes in France and the Netherlands on the EU constitution. 

"We are proceeding too slowly but we are proceeding with unifying the market,'' he told a conference of central bankers in Beijing. 

"The opportunity cost of not proceeding more rapidly is very high. But the sense of direction should not be confused,'' he said. 

He added that low interest rates were good for Europe, but he wouldn't comment on whether rates might be cut. 

The European Central Bank voted last week to keep its key interest rate unchanged at 2 percent despite forecasts that the region's economy will grow more slowly this year that previously expected. 

On Beijing's policy of fixing its currency to the U.S. dollar, Trichet said it would be in China's interest to raise the value of its currency but it was up to the Chinese government decide. 

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, speaking to the conference by satellite video link, urged China to allow its currency to trade more freely. - AP

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