News / Europe

German, French Leaders Call for Quick Action on Debt Crisis

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, smiles as he greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, December 5, 2011.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, smiles as he greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, December 5, 2011.

Germany and France are pressing their case that European leaders need to act quickly to resolve the continent's debt crisis and save the common euro currency.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy detailed their plan Wednesday to end the two-year debt contagion in a letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, a day ahead of a European Union summit in Brussels. The German and French leaders called for automatic penalties against governments that violate budget limits, a unified corporate tax rate and a new financial transaction tax.

Merkel and Sarkozy, who oversee Europe's two strongest economies, said they are "convinced that we need to act without delay." They said new EU treaty provisions should be ready for adoption by March.

But even as they pushed for broad European oversight of individual government budgets, news agencies quoted an unnamed senior German government source as saying that he is more pessimistic than a week ago that all 27 EU nations will agree to treaty changes. More likely, he said, is that the 17-nation bloc that uses the euro might agree to more centralized authority over budgets.

Britain, with its own currency (the pound), says it is worried about handing control over its spending to a new European-wide authority. That could make a Europe-wide debt resolution more difficult to achieve.

Some analysts say the survival of the continent's 12-year monetary union is at stake at the summit. Economists worry that the world economy could plunge into a new recession if the European debt crisis is not resolved.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, fearful of the effects of a euro collapse on the fragile American economy, is on a three-day trip to European capitals to prod officials to adopt strong measures.

After meeting with French Finance Minister Francois Baroin in Paris, Geithner expressed confidence that the European officials will move to control government spending, create new economic growth and calm jittery financial markets worried about governments defaulting on their debts.

"The minister and I just had a very good and constructive discussion," said Geithner. "We have a very strong, productive relationship, a lot of confidence in what the president of France and what the minister are doing working with Germany, trying to build a stronger Europe.

"As I said yesterday, we were encouraged by the progress they are making, not just to put in place the economic reforms across Europe to create the conditions for stronger growth in the future, but to try to build a stronger architecture for a fiscal union, a fiscal compact, he continued, "and as the minister said, try to make sure there is a sufficiently strong firewall in place to help support those efforts."

Credit agency Standard & Poor's this week put 15 of the 17 nations that use the euro, including Germany and France, on a negative credit watch. It also warned it may downgrade the top rating of the bailout fund for Europe's debt-ridden countries. Greece, Ireland and Portugal have all already needed international bailouts, with analysts fearing that Italy and Spain, the continent's third and fourth largest countries, also might need help.

The credit rating agency has criticized European officials for "a very slow and reluctant response" to the continent's debt crisis. It has also expressed skepticism that European leaders would act decisively at the summit.

One British bookmaker has adopted a similar outlook, offering gamblers three-to-one odds that the euro will cease to exist by the end of 2012.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers 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.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
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.

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