European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi on Monday downplayed the importance of ratings agencies after Standard & Poor's mass downgrade of eurozone countries, saying markets had priced in the action.
"I think what we should do is to learn either to do without them or with them but to a much more limited way than we do today," said Draghi, in his capacity as head of the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB).
"To a great extent, markets anticipated these ratings changes and priced their assets as if these ratings had already been issued," said Draghi, speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Europe's leading stock markets on Monday shrugged off a wave of ratings downgrades on Friday, including that of France's triple-A status, while the euro remained essentially unchanged.
As Draghi was speaking, S&P also downgraded the EU bailout fund EFSF by one notch to AA+ but said it would restore the top AAA ranking if the fund obtains additional guarantees.
The ECB president also appeared to suggest widening out the number of ratings agencies.
"We don't have competition in the rating industry so whatever we do to increase this competition is well done," he said.
"We should learn to assess creditworthiness in a way in which ratings, or credit ratings agencies, are one of the many components of our information, we don't depend 100 percent on the ratings agencies," he added.
Draghi issued a dire warning on the eurozone financial crisis, saying it had got worse in the past few months, describing it as "very grave".
"When my predecessor Jean-Claude Trichet addressed this committee last October, he characterised the current crisis as one that had reached systemic dimensions. Since then, the situation has worsened further," he said.
"We are in a very grave state of affairs and we must not shy away from this fact," added Draghi.
He also warned European leaders that efforts to tighten the bloc's fiscal rules as a response to the crisis must be implemented quickly.
"The euro area heads of state and government have agreed on an important fiscal compact," said Draghi.
"However, decisions without matching actions are not enough," added the ECB president.
The ESRB was set up by the European Union to identify any emerging problems in Europe's financial system so that relevant authorities can act correspondingly.
Although officially speaking as head of the ESRB, Draghi also defended the ECB's actions in providing nearly a trillion euros of funds to ailing banks in a bid to ease credit conditions in the eurozone.
The ECB decided last month to make unlimited amounts of liquidity available to eurozone banks at super-cheap rates for a period of three years, the longest refinancing operation conducted by the ECB yet.
With these actions, "we think we have avoided a major credit crunch even though in some parts of the (euro) area, this credit crunch is already on its way".
Asked about Greece, Draghi said he could only offer generalised comments, given talks were ongoing between Athens and its creditors.
However, he said that "both because of much lower growth and because of some lack of implementation", Greece's fiscal programme "isn't delivering what was expected".