Europe needs a debate on how to promote economic growth, ECB policymaker Ewald Nowotny told a newspaper, declining to discuss how long the central bank could keep interest rates low.

Above all it is now time to conduct a serious growth discussion, for all of Europe as well, he told Austrian paper Kurier in an interview published on Thursday, noting the euro zone debt crisis had stabilised but challenges still lay ahead.

Alongside using the potential for savings we cannot forget significant impetus for growth, he said, citing the need for investments in research and development, education and environmental technology.

Asked how much longer the European Central Bank could keep interest rates low, he said: I can only say that we do reality checks again and again for our current course. That means it is always valid to decide in (light of) the concrete situation.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Kim Coghill)