Disappointing euro zone growth data pours more cold water on ECB Mario Draghi's stimulus policies. As David Pollard reports, German chancellor Angela Merkel has also waded into the debate over whether those policies are working.
Mario Draghi made a staunch defence of the ECB at a policy meeting this week. We obey the law, not politicians, he said. Europe's most senior politician added her voice to the debate soon after. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "It's legitimate that people in Germany discuss the fact that interest rates have been much higher but that shouldn't be confused with interference in the independent policy of the ECB, which I support." German finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, and others have slammed ECB low interest rates for their impact on the profits of German banks - and on pensioner savings. And the debate over ECB stimulus policy is hardly likely to get quieter. New data shows the euro zone still struggling to lift its economy. PMI readings for March coming in below forecasts. And German services slowing to a 9-month low. But there is support for Draghi - even in Germany. (SOUNDBITE) (German) HEAD OF CAPITAL MARKETS ANALYSIS AT BAADER BANK, ROBERT HALVER, SAYING: "The ECB said very clearly it will continue to support the euro economy and they have to, because reform policy in all European countries, even in Germany, is scarce." As in Greece - though a deal with creditors could be close. According to remarks made by Eurogroup chief, Jeroen Dijsselbloem. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROGROUP PRESIDENT, JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM, SAYING: "If there is enough progress in the coming days we will have this extra Eurogroup on Thursday, we'll see how far we can get." Greece wants to conclude its bailout review to unlock more emergency funds. Earlier, the euro group chief warned it might have to consider additional reform measures if that was to happen.