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Merkel tells southern Europeans to work longer

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Merkel tells southern Europeans to work longer
Photo: DPA
11:15 CEST+02:00
Chancellor Angela Merkel has attacked southern European countries such as Greece, where people retire early and take lots of holidays, saying they can no longer enjoy such lifestyles at the cost of other EU members like Germany.

In the light of the eurozone financial crisis and the billions of euros of aid being paid out by Germany, Merkel said on Tuesday evening her reservations were not only about the need to avoid increasing debt.

“It is also about not being able to retire earlier in countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal than in Germany, instead everyone should try a little bit to make the same efforts – that is important,” she said at a political event for her conservative Christian Democrats in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The official German retirement age is in the process of being raised from 65 to 67 in order to keep more people in work and paying taxes, for longer. German employees are entitled to at least 20 days holiday a year.

“We cannot have a (common) currency and one gets lots of holiday and the other very little. That does not fit together in the long term,” she said.

The current Greek retirement age of mid- to late-50s is to be raised to 65 for men this summer as part of a package of changes to be introduced by the government this year.

Merkel made it clear she expected Greece and the other struggling eurozone countries to redouble their effort.

“Of course we want the euro, and of course we do not want (any country) to go bust, so to say, and that we are all pulled down. We cannot simply show solidarity and say these countries should simply continue as before.

“Yes Germany will help but Germany will only help when the others try. And that must be clear,” she said.

Merkel received a report on the potential economic effects of raising the German retirement age to 68 and 69 on Wednesday and said suggestions based upon it would be made in the autumn.

DPA/DAPD/hc

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