News / Europe

Europe Ushers in New Year With Worries Over Economic Future

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (file photo)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (file photo)
Stefan Bos

Europe has ushered in the New Year amid warnings from European leaders there are tough tasks ahead to save the euro currency and overcome the deepest economic crisis in decades.  

Europeans woke with a hangover from 2011, when their continent plunged into its deepest economic crisis in decades.

Government leaders struggled to sound optimistic for the new year, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy warning Europe's financial struggles are not finished and "that 2012 will be the year full of risks, but also of possibilities."

Europe's largest economy, Germany, is expected to play a leading role in fixing mounting multi-billion-euro debts.  Germany has been involved in desperate efforts to prevent the collapse of the 17-country monetary union.

In her New Year's address to the nation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged she expects turbulence in 2012.

Speaking on national television, Ms. Merkel says overcoming these difficulties will not be without setbacks, but "at the end of this path Europe will emerge stronger from the crisis than before."  She pledges to do everything to defend the European currency and to help solve the debt crisis.  She says the euro has made "everyday life easier and the economy stronger."

The chancellor is to meet with President Sarkozy in Berlin this month to discuss revisions to Europe's fiscal rule book, with a final accord by European leaders on the German-French proposals in March.

EU members that do not use the euro also face economic and political uncertainties this year.

Among those worst hit is Hungary, after major credit agencies Moody's and Standard&Poor's downgraded its debt to the non-investing "junk" status.

In addition, many Western nations are concerned about Hungary's new constitution and laws introduced on New Year's Day.  Critics claim they amount to a government take-over of the Central Bank, private pension funds, and other previously independent institutions.

In Budapest, Hungarians briefly tried to forget these worries.

Wearing 2012 eye glasses, parties erupted in downtown Budapest, with massive fire works and dancing crowds.

Yet elsewhere in town, thousands gathered in front of parliament to demonstrate against "the end of democracy."  They included journalists who have been on hunger strike to protest alleged government interference in news programs.

Political analyst Peter Kreko of Budapest based research group Political Capital told VOA News Prime Minister Viktor Orban's policies have angered the International Monetary Fund and it is unlikely to provide a $26 billion safety net requested by Hungary.

“The outcome of this whole situation can be that we simply will not be financed by the IMF and the EU and it can have serious consequences for Hungary.  There is just one escape route of the government.  They expect that if we will not get a loan package that we can use the reserves of the Central Banks, but it can last for just a view more months," he said.

For some hopeful words, Catholics in Hungary and around Europe turned to Pope Benedict XVI, who marked the end of 2011 with televised prayers of thanks.  He said humanity awaits the New Year with apprehension, but also with hope for a better future because "the Lord watches" and "takes care" of everyone.   

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs