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: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday because of its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid