News / Europe

EU Finance Ministers Discuss Ways to Save the Euro

From left, Greek Finance Minister Venizelos, French Finance Minister Baroin, Luxembourg's PM Juncker, German Finance Minister Schaeuble, European Commissioner for the Economy Olli Rehn, Italian PM and Finance Minister Mario Monti and Belgium's Finance Min
From left, Greek Finance Minister Venizelos, French Finance Minister Baroin, Luxembourg's PM Juncker, German Finance Minister Schaeuble, European Commissioner for the Economy Olli Rehn, Italian PM and Finance Minister Mario Monti and Belgium's Finance Min
Lisa Bryant

Finance ministers from the 17-nation eurozone are holding another set of talks Tuesday and Wednesday on salvaging their common currency, amid more grim financial news.

New governments in Greece and Italy, two of Europe's most financially troubled countries, have not been enough to reassure markets that the European Union has a handle on its sovereign debt and banking crisis. In new signs of doubt, Italian bond rates are soaring, last week, credit agencies lowered their ratings for Belgium, Portugal and Hungary. And lending among European banks is shrinking.

As finance ministers meet in Brussels Tuesday and Wednesday, ideas are circulating for more radical fiscal changes. France and Germany want a stronger fiscal union among the 17 nations sharing the euro currency, with tougher budget commitments by member states.  That idea was outlined by France's finance minister, Francois Baroin, on Tuesday.

Speaking on French radio, Baroin said the European Union should have two objectives; restoring global confidence in the short term and more budgetary and fiscal integration in the longer term.

EU finance ministers are also expected to discuss another option, eurobonds, essentially a way in which eurozone members guarantee each other's debts. But Germany, the most powerful EU member, opposes the idea.  

Berlin is also against another idea, reinforcing the powers of the European Central Bank, to make it a so-called lender of last resort for the region.

The chief executive officer of the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies, Karel Lannoo, says even if EU nations can agree on some of these ideas, they will take time to implement.

"There are short-term issues which have to be decided almost immediately, like preventing the contagion from the solution of Greece, writing off part of its debt, from spreading to other countries," said Lannoo. "And long-term solutions, like seeing whether we can have a federal model, like you have in the United States, of financing the debt of members of the eurozone."

As the eurozone crisis has grown this year, so has criticism that European leaders have been too slow and timid in addressing it. Meeting Monday with top EU officials in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama again raised concerns that Europe's problems may become America's problems.

"This is of huge importance to our economy if Europe is contracting or if Europe is having difficulties," said Obama. "Then it is much more difficult for us to create jobs here at home because we send so many products and services to Europe. It is such an important trading partner for us."

There is speculation that one or more members, starting with debt-strapped Greece, may leave the currency zone, triggering a domino effect. But Lannoo, for one, believes the eurozone will continue through the difficulties.

"Basically, I think there is no way back. You start to see some studies that look at the cost of a breakdown of the eurozone," said Lannoo, "the more you read about these things, the more you see this is almost unimaginable."

More bailout money for Greece and enlarging the EU bailout fund are also on the ministers' agenda. But the focus is on a December 9 European summit, as pressure mounts for leaders to resolve their debt crisis by the year's end.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid