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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs