• Germany's news in English
 

‘The euro is still a brilliant notion’

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
Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture
A fissure on the Autobahn near Heidelberg. Photo: DPA

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture

The heatwave sweeping across the country may have Germans flocking to the sea this weekend, but the extreme temperatures are also causing Autobahns to break apart. READ  

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats

A vast Nazi mega-complex meant as holiday homes for German workers and later used by the Soviets as a Cold War barracks is about to be turned into luxury flats. READ  

Greece crisis
'Bundestag must vote on new bailout': Schäuble
A poster of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in Athens reads "For five years he has sucked your blood. Now tell him NO." Photo: DPA

'Bundestag must vote on new bailout': Schäuble

UPDATE: Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Friday that there would be no quick release of bailout funds to Greece after the country's referendum on whether to accept its creditors' terms on Sunday. READ  

Activists give Dalai Lama 80th birthday stamp
The new Deutsche Post stamp showing the Dalai Lama. Photo: DPA

Activists give Dalai Lama 80th birthday stamp

Pro-Tibet activists have created a new limited-edition stamp featuring the Dalai Lama to mark the Tibetan spiritual leader's 80th birthday. READ  

Women's World Cup
'Germany will crack England': top coach
Star striker Celia Sasic. Photo: DPA

'Germany will crack England': top coach

The manager of European champions FFC Frankfurt told The Local he expects Germany to beat England in the third place play-off in the Women's World Cup, and predicted his protege Celia Sasic will grab a goal or two. READ  

NSA surveillance scandal
Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying
Chancellor Angela Merkel, the highest-profile German victim of NSA spying, speaking on the phone. Photo: DPA

Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying

Green Party security expert Konstantin von Notz told The Local on Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel is failing to restore faith in the German-US partnership following fresh spying revelations. READ  

Germany reach semis of beach volleyball worlds
Ilka Semmler and Katrin Holtwick. Photo: DPA file

Germany reach semis of beach volleyball worlds

Germany's top beach volleyball pair are storming the world championships in Holland and prepare to face Brazil in the semis on Friday. READ  

Environment minister blasts Merkel, colleagues
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. Photo: DPA

Environment minister blasts Merkel, colleagues

Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks loosed a broadside against her cabinet colleagues on Friday in a guest article for Die Welt, saying that they had decided to do too little to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a way that would cost too much. READ  

Greece crisis
BILD polls readers in own 'Greece referendum'
Image: BILD/screenshot

BILD polls readers in own 'Greece referendum'

Tabloid Bild continued its campaign against bailouts for Greece on Friday by calling its own "referendum", asking readers to fill out a poll on whether Germany should keep stumping up. German politicians were divided on how the Greek vote would affect Europe. READ  

Police confiscate WW2 tank hidden in cellar
The Panther tank removed from a cellar in Kiel, with a prosecutors' evidence label attached to its barrel. Photo: DPA

Police confiscate WW2 tank hidden in cellar

Police searched a villa in a wealthy suburb of Kiel on Wednesday and found a Second World War tank, a torpedo and other weaponry in the cellar. On Thursday they were still working on removing the tank. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
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

6,945
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd