ECB 'can't do everything for everyone'

The European Central Bank, in charge of monetary policy for 17 different countries, "can't do everything for everyone at any time," ECB chief Mario Draghi said on Tuesday.

Responding to questions at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Draghi said that while the ECB's raft of anti-crisis measures had "avoided major disasters," the full positive effects were still not feeding through into the real economy just yet.

And even though interest rates were at historic lows and the ECB had pumped unprecedented amounts of liquidity into banks, credit was still not flowing freely to small and medium-sized enterprises, the ECB chief said.

There were three reasons why this might be the case: banks might lack funding, they might lack capital, or -- if they had both capital and funding -- "they're fearful of lending because they're afraid they won't be repaid," he said.

As a central bank, the ECB could tackle the first problem, which it had done via its emergency liquidity operations. But it was not in its jurisdiction to solve the other two problems, he said.

"We're not in the business of cleaning up struggling banks," Draghi insisted.

Nevertheless, the ECB was fully aware of the difficulties of getting credit flowing to businesses and "we continue working on this problem and within our mandate," he said.

"It's not a matter of courage, it's a matter of doing the right thing. The issue here is do the right thing."

And the participation of other actors was needed, particularly the national governments, Draghi said.

The comments echo Draghi's remarks made earlier this month after the ECB held interest rates steady at its last policy meeting.