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ECB head urges commitment to shared markets

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- European Central Bank head Mario Draghi called on governments to keep up their efforts to integrate financial markets in Europe despite the eurozone debt crisis.

Draghi made the remarks Tuesday at signing ceremonies for participants in a new computer platform that will settle securities transactions across borders. Nine firms serving as central securities depositories, covering two-thirds of eurozone securities trading, signed up.

He called the signing of the so-called T2S system agreement "a powerful signal of our determination to proceed with the integration of financial markets."

Some analysts fear that countries might seek to insulate and protect their economies more as the European debt crisis causes turmoil in financial markets. This week, a political standoff in Greece has fueled speculation that the financially prostrate country may wind up abandoning the shared euro currency in coming months. Among the signers of the new European securities platform was the Bank of Greece Securities Settlement System.

"It is during these times of crisis that we should not allow our commitment to the cause of further market integration to fade," Draghi said. "It is during difficult times that we should remember the importance of cooperation and coordination."

T2S, which is to begin operations in 2015, is designed to speed functions that take place out of sight of most investors, the "plumbing" of the financial system. By standardizing computer and legal matters, ECB officials say it should lower transaction costs, simplify banks' back-office operations and make it easier to manage collateral.

The system will be based on computers at four locations in Europe that officials did not immediately disclose.