Merkel Affirms Opposition to Eurobonds

Sunday, 21 Aug 2011 04:39 PM

 

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted Sunday that eurozone-wide government bonds wouldn't solve the current debt crisis, and said she sees no sign of a new recession in her own country — Europe's biggest economy.

Financially solid Germany's government has led opposition to "eurobonds," viewed by some as a logical solution to the debt crisis that has pushed up troubled countries' borrowing costs.

Their rejection last week by Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy hasn't stopped advocates — in Germany's opposition and elsewhere in Europe — pushing for them. Critics say they would raise costs unfairly for solid countries and could even deepen debt troubles.

"Solving the current crisis will not be possible with eurobonds, and so eurobonds are not the answer," Merkel said in an interview with ZDF television.

She added that she didn't know whether things might change "in the distant future, but at this point ... eurobonds are exactly the wrong answer — they would lead us into a union of debt and not into a union of stability."

Merkel insisted that "every country must attend to reducing its own debt" and pointed to possible legal issues with eurobonds: a need for European treaty changes that could "take years" and to address whether they would be compatible with Germany's constitution.

"Politicians cannot and will not simply follow the markets," Merkel said. "The markets want to force certain things; we will not do that. Politicians must instead ensure that we make ourselves unassailable."

Merkel's junior coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party of Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler, has been particularly keen to stiffen the government's resistance to eurobonds. Roesler said over the weekend that he rules out their introduction by the current center-right coalition.

The Netherlands' finance minister also said he expects Berlin to hold firm.

"Eurobonds are not the solution," Jan Kees de Jager was quoted as telling German weekly Der Spiegel, arguing that they would remove any incentive for troubled countries to get their budgets and economies in order, and "induce governments to run up more debts instead of saving."

"I call that perverse," he said.

Merkel still appears to have work to do before a parliamentary vote expected late next month to sell her own coalition the results of last month's eurozone crisis summit.

Leaders put together a new rescue package for Greece and agreed to expand the powers of the current €440 billion ($633 billion) eurozone rescue fund — without increasing its size.

A prominent lawmaker in Merkel's conservative party, Wolfgang Bosbach, was quoted Sunday as telling Focus magazine that he couldn't vote in favor "if nothing significant changes in the current plans." He pointed to doubts over whether Greece could ever repay its debts, according to the report.

Merkel expressed confidence that she would muster a majority from coalition lawmakers. "I believe we will get it, and I will campaign very much for it," she said.

Spectacular German growth has been key to respectable eurozone figures over the past year and half. Merkel said she expects the economy to continue improving, despite a decline in German growth from 1.3 percent in the first quarter to an unexpectedly weak 0.1 percent in the second.

The economy is ahead of last year's forecasts and "the labor market situation is developing well, so I think we have the opportunity to continue with an upswing," the chancellor said.

"I see nothing that points to a recession in Germany."

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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