ECB needs to turn the page on September meeting, Villeroy says

FILE PHOTO: Francois Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the Bank of France, attends the Group of 20 (G-20) high-level seminar on financial innovation "Our Future in the Digital Age" on the sidelines of the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Fukuoka, Japan, on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Kiyoshi Ota/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - ECB policymakers need to put their most recent meeting behind them and move on, ECB governing board member Francois Villeroy de Galhau told Reuters on Friday as divisions over a key decision linger.

The deep split at the Sept. 12 meeting emerged over restarting bond purchases, and has left some policywatchers questioning the ECB’s resolve.

“The early September Governing Council discussion is now behind us. Everyone legitimately expressed themselves and the decisions were taken there equally legitimately,” Villeroy, who is also governor of the Bank of France, said.

In an unprecedented division more than a third of ECB policymakers, including the central bank chiefs of both France and Germany, were against new bond purchases at the meeting.

Minutes from the meeting published on Thursday offered further evidence of the split, coming after a series of frustrated statements from some central bankers.

Villeroy, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting in Paris, said the ECB should now look forward and focus on two areas where there was strong consensus.

“We must maintain an accommodative monetary policy in the face of the economic slowdown and too weak inflation,” Villeroy said. “Then it is highly desirable that budget policy extends this monetary support everywhere it is possible in Europe.”

The divisions have created acrimony at a sensitive moment, with Christine Lagarde preparing to replace ECB President Mario Draghi at the head of one of the European Union’s most important institutions.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Alison Williams and Alex Richardson