March 12 - A wary German central bank says it has set aside billions more euros against what it deems risky European Central Bank moves, and criticises France directly for ''floundering'' in its reform drives. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Presenting Bundesbank 2012 results, Jens Weidmann, the bank's chief, said the euro zone crisis, which has eased as a result of ECB funding promises, was not over. He urged governments to tackle the roots of their troubles with reforms. Weidmann, a member of the ECB's Governing Council, opposed the bank's yet-to-be-used bond-buy plan agreed last September and believes euro zone governments must shape up their economies to exit the crisis rather than looking to the ECB for help. Stressing that "the crisis is not over despite the recent calm on financial markets," Weidmann earlier told a news conference there was uncertainty about the reform course in France, Italy and Cyprus. The Bundesbank is concerned about risks the ECB has taken on to help banks through the crisis, for example by accepting lower-rated assets in return for cash, exposing it to larger losses if a bank fails to repay. Weidmann also said the euro zone crisis was the biggest threat to Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse. The country's economy expanded robustly during the first two years of the euro zone crisis but growth slowed last year and the economy shrank in the fourth quarter. Most economists still see the country escaping a recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction, by growing weakly in the first quarter before regaining momentum.