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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid