Euro role grows, says ECB

Keynote speaker Paul Mercier, deputy director general of market operations, said the single currency is now used more by central banks and those trading goods and services directly.

He pointed to the 40 currencies that the International Monetary Fund says are using the euro as a reserve and intervention currency, and that one third of nations that have a peg use the unit. The economic strength of the eurozone means its growing appeal will increase steadily. "Size matters, the eurozone is a very big economic area and at more than 300 million people it has the biggest people population in the world. The value of its total goods and services trade is as large as the US and three times larger than Japan's."

However, Mercier acknowledged that its use is still limited compared with the dollar. Inertia and the fact that the greenback has been the world's major currency for so long mean any change in this would take place slowly, he said.

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