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EU Parliament Risks ECB Spat Over Draghi Briefing Leaks

European Union lawmakers risked a breach of confidence with the European Central Bank after revealing details from a confidential briefing with ECB President Mario Draghi.

Members of the EU assembly’s economic and monetary affairs committee were chastised yesterday by the group’s chairwoman, Sharon Bowles, over the disclosures, which occurred shortly after the briefing with Draghi at the European Parliament in Brussels. Draghi was taking part in a hearing organized by the committee on the future of the euro and plans to build a so-called banking union.

The leaks were “a complete breach of confidence,” Bowles told lawmakers at a later, public, part of the session. “I think it has brought this house into disrepute.”

The euro rose against the dollar following comments from Jean-Paul Gauzes, a French member of the panel, that Draghi had told the lawmakers that he ECB president was comfortable with the central bank buying bonds with maturities up to about three years.

The euro jumped a quarter of a cent to $1.2611 and traded at $1.2595 at 10:40 p.m. in Brussels, up 0.1 percent on the day.

Gauzes released a statement later saying that Draghi hadn’t set out any future ECB operation on bond markets.

Draghi declined to comment to reporters on arriving and leaving the parliament.

ECB Officials

While it had originally been intended that Draghi’s hearing with lawmakers would be public, that plan was changed because of the convention that senior ECB officials don’t comment publicly on policy in the week before an ECB Governing Council meeting, according to a parliament spokesman. The ECB holds its next rate-setting meeting on Sept. 6.

Sven Giegold, a German Green member of the European Parliament who attended the closed-door meeting with Draghi, said following the hearing that he left it with the impression that the ECB will renew intervention in bond markets to stem the debt crisis.

The leaks ”have probably jeopardized” the possibility of having officials attend the committee’s hearings on an in camera basis, Bowles said. ”And we know who to hold responsible, because your names are in the press.”

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