• Germany's news in English
 

‘The euro is still a brilliant notion’

The Local · 30 Jul 2012, 09:25

Published: 30 Jul 2012 09:25 GMT+02:00

In a wide-ranging talk at the US Embassy in Berlin, the ambassador warned that Europe’s sovereign debt woes would likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

“It’s going to take longer than any of us would like. It’s going to continue to be challenging for an extended period of time,” Murphy told The Local in his office overlooking the Brandenburg Gate.

“But at the end of the day, Europe will get through this. And I would even venture to say that Europe will be stronger in many respects.”

Reiterating Washington’s call for the European Union not to focus solely on austerity measures favoured by Germany, Murphy called for efforts to boost growth in floundering eurozone nations like Greece and Spain.

“If you don’t have a growth agenda that’s alongside getting the pipes more deeply connected, you’ll have too many [out of work] young people – particularly in places like Spain where you’ve got extraordinarily high youth unemployment. Something has to be done about that,” he said.

The ambassador said the crisis had exposed the need for greater political and economic integration to ensure the euro’s survival: “It’s hard to believe you could have a currency with 17 countries that aren’t more tightly and deeply knit.”

A former investment banker who ran Goldman Sachs’ German operations in Frankfurt from 1993 to 1997, Murphy also stressed the need to take immediate steps to restore the capital markets’ confidence in the eurozone.

“So that countries that need to finance or refinance can do so at rates that are reasonable and reflect the realities of their credit. That has to be a ‘here-and-now’ agenda,” he said.

Bucking up Berlin

Saying the euro remained “a brilliant notion” to bind Europe together, Murphy rejected the suggestion that Washington expected Berlin to take specific action to stem the ongoing crisis.

“I wouldn’t use that verb choice. It’s not expecting what Germany should do. We talk to Berlin all the time as we do with the big capitals and Brussels all the time,” he said. “We buck each other up. We share best practices. It’s an open channel at the highest levels, and very constructive.”

But with American officials fearing an implosion of Europe’s single currency could halt the sluggish US recovery, Murphy was also clear on how much Washington was counting on Berlin to resolve the festering crisis.

“This is of enormous importance to us,” he said. “The depth of the economic relationship between Europe and the United States – and particularly Germany and the United States – cannot be underestimated.”

Since his appointment by President Barack Obama in 2009, Murphy has worked to deepen America’s economic ties with Germany - but also foster the cultural bonds between the two countries.

Unpretentious diplomacy

A political appointee holding a top fund-raising position for the Democratic Party before becoming ambassador, Murphy has taken to the diplomatic life with gusto, bringing his own unpretentious style to the role of being America’s top envoy to Berlin.

“It’s a humbling opportunity to be intimately involved in one of the closest relationships our country has in the world – it’s a big deal for me every day,” he said.

At home in New Jersey, the ambassador, his wife Tammy and their four children also clearly enjoy living in Germany. The Murphys have chosen to spend part of their summer vacation in Baden-Württemberg and Brandenburg. And as a family of devoted soccer fans, they have even adopted the beleaguered Berlin football club Hertha BSC.

In his office in heart of the German capital, Murphy could at times hardly contain his enthusiasm when talking about the past three years.

“We love it here. We’ve had an extraordinary experience. Professionally certainly, but the family experience has been exceptional, he said. “It’s been a game-changing experience for all of us. We get out and about.”

An affable envoy

It’s quite a departure from the past two US ambassadors to Berlin – while former businessman William Timken was a drab diplomatic functionary, US Senator Dan Coats spent most of his time barely containing his outrage over the Germans’ temerity to oppose the invasion of Iraq.

By contrast, the affable the 55-year-old Murphy has proven an effective advocate of US interests – frequently disarming his hosts by speaking American-accented German.

His suave people skills have helped bridge disagreements on global economic policies between Berlin and Washington, as well as smooth over WikiLeaks’ embarrassing release of diplomatic cables revealing the US Embassy’s deeply unflattering assessment of members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government in 2010.

US base closures and American expat issues – click here for the second half of The Local’s interview with Ambassador Murphy.

Marc Young

marc.young@thelocal.de

twitter.com/marcyoung

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

11:55 July 30, 2012 by wenddiver
Yes th EURO and open borders with all these poor nations are a brillant idea like putting a flamable gas in the Zepplin Hindenburg. Briiliant!!!
12:32 July 30, 2012 by mos101392
Europe needs the euro more than Germany. If it were not for Germany, the euro would be even more undervalued. However, if all of Europe went back to their own currencies, they would all reflect their individual values and the DM would increase. Germans would then vacation in style once they converted their DMs to the local curencies.

But since everyone wants to be one big happy euro family, the haves will have to take care of the have nots....Just like the German haves take care of the German have nots!

It will come down to the average German taxpayer to pay for the weaker economies of Greece, Spain, Portugal, ect...Not the rich Bankers or politicians!
12:57 July 30, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Mos101392. You are another BILD reader then? Simple economics for the masses via BILD. The Euro benefits big German corporations as the alternative strong DM would seriously damage their exports. The other EU countries are paying for this with a strong Euro instead of their own weaker currency meaning hurt exports from their countries. Sure you are right, your holidays are affected by this but in fairness the EU economy is about much more than your holidays :-)
13:36 July 30, 2012 by cheeba
I don't know how he came up with the idea it's brilliant. It's been tried so many times before, knitting together different linguistic and cultural groups in one bigger entity. Soviet Union, Austria Hungary, Yugoslavia, in the end the populace just ends up not wanting it. and yes, BILD readers do represent the masses, in the way Die Zeit readers represent a small brittle elite at the top. the masses generally win iin the end, Just ask Bashar al Assad or Gorbachev.
13:49 July 30, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Bad scaremongering journalism that is out of touch with reality is what BILD represents. Luckily it is only the poorly educated who take notice of it. The same people who think Majorca is in Germany.
19:02 July 30, 2012 by IchBinKönig
If it wasn't a 'Brilliant Notion', it wouldn't have been thought of first by umm lets see...

The Romans, Greeks, Joseph II, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and everyones favorite, Adolf Hitler. wonderful.
19:39 July 30, 2012 by friedenstempel
Austerity is misleading, it is all about fiscal discipline and reliability of these nations. When rating agencies rate you junk, that is what you are, and then you need to be firm on virtues, not spent even more ("growth") to deepen the crisis.

Friedrich Wilhelm I managed to save the Prussian state by financial prudence. The Sourthern Europeans could do it, too. We have to be firm on principles.

Probably Murphy is not the right person to guide us on principled grounds as he refused to resign when his embassy spied on the German foreign office.
02:18 July 31, 2012 by neunElf
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
00:07 August 1, 2012 by mayitoh
Germany was Germany, before the Euro, before the European Union, before Merkel or any other busybody Chancellor, with a long and rich history of success, in the farming, in the industry, in the technology, in the arts, in the military. In each of them, when talking about human history you have to make a stop in Germany and then make a reflection. Only that government today are trying to become zombies the German's people and make them feel guilty and scare them.... Germany will be better off with the Mark and his own INDENTITY and no trying to fix what have never been fixable in this complex and turbulent Europe....... the call from the US ambassador, it is a desperate call and a high and clear message of how deep is sunk this Euro-titanic!!!
14:00 August 3, 2012 by JohnnesKönig
Berlin fuer alles are you devoid of basic reading skills?

Isn't your argument exactly the point that mos101392 made?!

And I would argue that in order for you to know what type of publishing Bild does, you're very likely one of their readers... Or are you just upset that he made the comment before you did?
16:36 August 20, 2012 by nightbiker
At home in New Jersey, the ambassador, his wife Tammy and their four children also clearly enjoy living in Germany.

He tells you to merge your currency with others but you do not see the U.S. trying to merge it's money with say Mexico.

What would he think of a joint bank account for his family and me. If he would do I promise one grand party with lots of free stuff for all.

Can't blame him for not wanting to come back to New Jersey.
Today's headlines
The photojournalist making news intimate
World Press Photo winner Mads Nissen. Photo: DPA

The photojournalist making news intimate

1 hour ago

Photographer Mads Nissen’s World Press Photo of the Year is currently touring Germany and the world. It’s a provocative image of two Russian gay men and one that some say is changing the definition of photojournalism.

Six athletics world champs head to Berlin
ISTAF is held annually in Berlin. File Photo: DPA

Six athletics world champs head to Berlin

1 hour ago

six world champions, freshly crowned from Beijing, will be gracing Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Sunday in the annual ISTAF track-and-field meet.

A week after heatwave, snow falls in Bavaria
Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain. File Photo: DPA

A week after heatwave, snow falls in Bavaria

1 hour ago

From 30C to snow in under a week? It's possible in Germany where seven centimetres of the white stuff fell at the top of the Bavarian Alps on Friday.

Oktoberfest and the Refugee Crisis
Munich plans to keep revellers, refugees apart
Police and refugees at Munich Central Station. Photo: DPA

Munich plans to keep revellers, refugees apart

1 hour ago

Police in Munich are preparing a significant operation to ensure that drunken revelers at Oktoberfest are kept away from refugees arriving at the city's central station from Budapest.

Criminal had time for pit stop in 20-cop-car chase
Photo: DPA

Criminal had time for pit stop in 20-cop-car chase

5 hours ago

With 21 police cars and a helicopter hot on his heels, it seemed unlikely that police in Düsseldorf would fail to catch one rogue motorist. But after a two-hour pursuit, that's exactly what happened in the early hours of Friday.

What's keeping Germans awake at night in 2015?
The Greek debt crisis has been haunting German dreams. Source: Wikipedia

What's keeping Germans awake at night in 2015?

23 hours ago

Having to cough up for the excesses of spendthrift southern Europeans is the fear most likely to haunt German nightmares in 2015. But getting caught up in a natural disaster isn't far behind, an annual survey shows.

This Week in History
The death of a great humanitarian
Schweitzer spent most of his later years at Lambaréné. Photo: DPA

The death of a great humanitarian

1 day ago

On September 4th 1965, the world lost one of its most dedicated and tireless humanitarians, as Albert Schweitzer died in the African hospital he had created and cherished for over 50 years. A hospital that continues to save lives today.

Refugee crisis
Pro-refugee group push punk classic to no. 1
Die Ärzte singer and drummer Bela B. with a DVD titled "not interested in Nazis" in 2009. Photo: DPA

Pro-refugee group push punk classic to no. 1

6 hours ago

Under the banner of "Arsehole Action", activists campaigning against xenophobia and hatred of refugees have pushed a 1993 hit by punk band Die Ärzte mocking the far right to the top of Germany's charts.

Refugee Crisis
Orban: Muslims threaten European identity
Viktor Orban, guardian of Europe? Photo: DPA

Orban: Muslims threaten European identity

8 hours ago

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned Thursday that the wave of mostly Muslim refugees coming to Europe threatens to undermine the continent's Christian roots - an idea rejected by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Football fan given 18 months for lighting flare
Football fans set of a flare. File Photo: DPA

Football fan given 18 months for lighting flare

8 hours ago

Germany is continuing its zero tolerance approach to football supporters lighting flares in Bundesliga grounds after a Schalke supporter was jailed for 18 months on Thursday with no parole.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Features
'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'
Features
How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears
Sport
German named 'arse bombing' world champ
Travel
Retiree finds parked car after three-week search
National
Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
Business & Money
German gadget clamps down on Nutella thieves
Society
Is Germany now a nation of couch potatoes?
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,888
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd