Bundesbank chief and European Central Bank governing council member Axel Weber said the ECB has no plans for a surprise hike in interest rates, in an interview in Monday's issue of Die Welt. "We are not in a cycle of rising interest rates. When the time comes, we'll prepare the market for it," the newspaper quoted him as saying. In comments in Monday's issue of the business daily Handelsblatt, Weber said that the current interest rate policy was appropriate, but that "the perspective for price stability has darkened recently." He said the ECB should shift to a more medium-term focus if inflation mounts and pushes into demands for wage increases. "The risk of a weakening of the economy in both the euro zone and Germany next year cannot be ruled out," he added. The ECB has kept its key interest rate fixed at 2.00 percent since June 2003. The ECB defines price stability as price increases of close to but just under 2.0 percent.