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Europe Prepares for Dressing Down at G8

  • Henry Ridgwell

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a debate after delivering a statement on her government policies ahead of the upcoming G8 and NATO summits Bundestag, in Berlin, May 10, 2012.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a debate after delivering a statement on her government policies ahead of the upcoming G8 and NATO summits Bundestag, in Berlin, May 10, 2012.

LONDON - With eyes firmly focused on the eurozone's debt crisis and its threat to global recovery, leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) major industrialized nations are preparing to meet Friday at Camp David, near Washington. European Union leaders are unlikely to get much sympathy for their present economic predicament.

It is Europe’s G8 members, notably France and Germany, who will face the scrutiny of fellow leaders at Camp David.

With full military honors, Francois Hollande arrived in Berlin under stormy skies Tuesday, just hours after being sworn in as French president and the continent seemingly sinking further into economic crisis.

Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the G8 meeting was timely.

//www.youtube.com/embed/079VYWizypg" width="420">Together with industrialized nations, she says the G8 must work harder than ever to get rid of the high debt levels, adding the G8 is exactly the right framework. Merkel says this will be the foundation for stable and sustainable growth.

Shrinking economies across southern Europe have prompted calls for a change of focus from austerity to growth.

To add to its economic meltdown, Greece is facing a political crisis. Elections failed to produce a majority and the country is going back to the polls next month.

G8 leaders outside Europe will have a simple message for the eurozone, says Stephanie Rickard of the London School of Economics. “I think they are going to say, ‘Hey, eurozone leaders, you need to solve this problem.’ I think they are going to say this is not a U.S. issue, this is not a Canadian issue, this is really a European issue and Europe needs to clean house,” she said.

EU leaders have looked to China’s booming economy for help in pulling the eurozone out of its debt mire. But Beijing will not come to the rescue, says Professor Steve Tsang of the China Policy Institute at Nottingham University.

“From their perspective, there is no reason why the hard-working Chinese should put their very hard-earned cash to bail out the very wealthy and in some ways lazy Europeans,” Tsang stated.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia is not attending. Moscow says he has domestic affairs to deal with.

“This is potentially a fracture in the organization that is critical not just for this meeting," Rickard noted. "But for the future of the G8 and for the future of global cooperation.”

The one new face at the G8, Francois Hollande, faces a baptism of fire on the world stage.

Enroute to Berlin, the French presidential plane was hit by lightning, forcing it to return to the air base outside Paris, where the president boarded a second aircraft bound for Germany. Hollande will hope for better omens on his second major foreign trip in just his first week of presidency.
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