Bratislava: A top member of the European Central Bank (ECB) called on the euro zone on Tuesday to stick to a policy of fiscal consolidation even if it hampers economic growth in the short term.

“We have never disputed that in the short term—first one or two years—fiscal consolidation is negative for growth," Joerg Asmussen told journalists in the Slovakian capital Bratislava.

“But I think it’s very important that in Europe as a whole we stick to the course of a sound fiscal path," said Asmussen, a member of the ECB’s six-person executive board.

“If you are on a sound fiscal path, this is positive for growth because you have confidence effects that bring back foreign investment," he added.

Under European Union (EU) rules all members of the 27-country bloc should keep their public deficits below 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) and their debt level under 60% of GDP.

Some countries, especially France, insist that austerity measures must not undermine economic growth within the debt-burdened EU.

Compared with output in the third quarter of 2012, the 17-state euro zone economy contracted 0.6%, while for the wider 27-member EU output fell 0.5%.

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