“We will continue to take our responsibilities seriously and we will stabilise further developments,” said Merkel before entering the summit meeting.
Steinmeier said the worlds of politics and economics had to cooperate to support the world of work. “2009 cannot become the year of redundancies,” he said.
He and Merkel will fight each other as chancellor candidates of their respective parties in the general election next year, so both need to be seen as a safe pair of hands for a faltering economy.
But Steinmeier in particular, as candidate for the Social Democrat Party, cannot afford to be number two in a government which fails to protect jobs.
However, the meeting ended without concrete results, according to Economy Minister Michael Glos.
Gustav Horn, head of the trade-union supporter Institute for Macro-economy and Economic Research, called for an economics package of €50 billion, to be spent on public works and investment, particularly on the local level.
Uwe Fröhlich, head of the Volksbank, said he wanted to see a reduction of social contributions levels.
Financial publication Wirtschaftswoche this weekend suggested the government had already agreed to spend at least €30 billion on reducing health insurance payments, investing in infrastructure and even handing tax back to the needy.
It is expected that a concrete plan will be unveiled before the end of February.