Switzerland's central bank says it is ending its minimum exchange rate policy that was meant to keep the euro from falling below 1.20 Swiss francs.

The Swiss National Bank said in a statement Thursday that the measure, introduced in Sept. 2011, "protected the Swiss economy from serious harm" but is no longer justified.

The bank says the euro peg meant that the franc has dropped sharply against the U.S. dollar because of the euro's recent fall in the value. It said in a statement that it would also lower its average interest rate to minus 0.75 percent from minus 0.25 percent.