A member of the European Central Bank's governing council has said the bank should soon be ready to intervene in bond markets.

It will do so in an effort to drive down the borrowing costs of struggling countries.

Christian Noyer, who heads France's central bank, said in an interview published today that the intervention would have a "strong impact" and would target short-term bonds.

The ECB action is designed to help Italy and Spain, who are struggling to manage their debts as investors demand ever higher borrowing costs.

In the interview with Le Point magazine, he defended the ECB against criticism it had done too little, saying bank action was no substitute for the countries' own efforts to reduce their debts.

Mr Noyer added that there is no plan that prepares for Greece's exit from the euro zone because it "is not something that we envision."