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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs