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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs