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Merkel says Europe facing 'hardest' hour

The Local · 14 Nov 2011, 14:32

Published: 14 Nov 2011 07:53 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Nov 2011 14:32 GMT+01:00

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Merkel told around 1,000 of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) at a party conference in the eastern city of Leipzig that if Europe did not flourish, Germany would also suffer.

"We need Europe because it is the basis of our well-being. Sixty percent of our exports go to the European Union, nine million jobs alone depend on it," Merkel said.

As Europe battles its debt crisis, she added however that: "Europe is today... perhaps in its hardest hour since the Second World War."

But she said just as Germany had vowed to emerge stronger from the 2008 financial crisis, "now we must see to it that Europe comes out of today's crisis stronger."

Germany has seen mounting ire at having to pay the lion's share of Europe's debt crisis bailout.

As the world's number two exporter after China, Germany is Europe's biggest economy and the paymaster for the eurozone's rescue fund, which has already helped bail out Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

But as anger simmers at Berlin shouldering the biggest burden, members of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union are putting forward a resolution at the congress to allow for struggling countries to exit the eurozone without leaving the EU.

Germany's news weekly Der Spiegel said in its online edition that it was "remarkable" that the CDU, which has always been the "Europe party", was officially discussing the possible euro exit of some states. Delegates are also expected to face a motion on overhauling the balance of power within the European Central Bank to give Germany a greater say.

The Frankfurt-based central bank's independence is a thorny issue in Germany, still haunted by the hyper-inflation of the 1920s and fearful of seeing it transformed into a money-printing machine.

Some CDU members want votes at the ECB's policy-setting governing council to be weighted according to a country's economic size and importance, rather than each of the 17 eurozone members having an equal say, as is currently the case meaning Germany has no more weight than tiny Malta.

A poll for public broadcaster ZDF released Friday suggested that Merkel's approval rating in her handling of the euro crisis had risen to 56 percent from 45 percent at the beginning of October.

A call for a minimum wage in sectors without one is also expected to focus minds at the Leipzig congress, in a major shift to the centre for Merkel's party after earlier about-faces on nuclear energy and army conscription.

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"The times are changing and therefore the answers must also change from the (conservative) compass. The decisions from 60 years ago are different to those of today," Merkel, chancellor since 2005, said on ARD television late Sunday.

The Welt am Sonntag saw the move, together with several other policy changes, as an attempt by Merkel to eye a possible future tie-up with the opposition Social Democrats or the Greens after the 2013 general election.

But Monday's Süddeutsche Zeitung commented that Merkel was stuck in a "sandwich position" that could make it difficult to see through the policies. "Not only the seniors (in the party), also the youths in the CDU represent clearly more conservative positions," it said.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:14 November 14, 2011 by coffejohn
"We have a single goal and that is to stabilise the eurozone as it is today, to make it more competitive, to make progress in balancing budgets,"

I would have thought that the single goal of your government would be to further your countries interests. How you do that by paying for the sins of your neighbors is beyond me.

Germany is behaving like the parent of a drug addict paying for it`s childrens drugs out of some misguided sense of responsibility. I am not advocating cold turkey as a cure but maintaining their habit will also fail.
13:38 November 14, 2011 by jmclewis
Angie has not looked this perplexed since mom told her there are no more cookies in the house.
13:39 November 14, 2011 by agarwaen
A more accurate analogy would be that the "Germany" super market, gave some of its customer's a credit card to use in the store, and forced them to sign an agreement, to use the "Germany" store only. Also, it made them give up their garden and their livestock. It racked up some handsome profits that way, first from the product sales and secondly from the credit card interest. Now the customers are bled dry, and they can't borrow from their own family (their own currency) because that's forbiden also (the ECB isn't a lender of last resort, it's the only central bank in the world that operates in that way ). So the "Germany" Super Market is lending some more money, with a handsome interest, while trying to find ways to make its customers solvent in the long run, and get its promised interest returns, since it (its Banks) has recorded them as income already, in the Super Market's books.

Germany is looking for its own self interests, and rightly so, like every country should. Thinking that German politicians live in some fairy land and are behaving that way bacause they "feel responsible" is kind of naive.
14:42 November 14, 2011 by freechoice
Imagine this, US and Europe Financial collapse.

Japan is still recovering from disasters aftermath.

China is plaqued with corruption.

Now where is the safe place to park your paper money?

It is times like this that one has to place his/her own faith in God!
16:01 November 14, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Germany's whole Political system is so far left, the 'conservative' Right want to redistribute Germany's wealth to the rest of the EU.

Germanys Energy/Carbon Tax Rate just wasn't getting the job of centralizing power and redistributing wealth fast enough. And with the weather not getting any hotter, its getting harder and harder to use that as an excuse for a power grab.

So the plan by the Euro Left Elitists are more Government infrastructure projects. No mention that those projects will just become a Securities Industry Gold Rush. Seems they really love those bankers.

17:15 November 14, 2011 by freechoice
isn't it interesting that while most of the Euro-zones countries are broke, many individuals are holding on to the massive funds and refused to help their fellow country men. If Euro crashes, don't they know their assets will be worthless?
18:41 November 14, 2011 by puisoh
Dear Freechoice,

Europe is not part of America, in ourselves we trust, not God. If God hasn't given you enough intelligence to protect yourself against crisis, then turning to him now is just as useless.

...'most of the Euro-zones countries are broke' .. broke is not a technical term. If you don't have enough money for a pack of cigarettes, you are broke. If Italy cannot rollover x-billion in interest payment, they are insolvent. What is exactly broke?

''many individuals are holding on to the massive funds and refused to help their fellow country men'' .. I think most people are not here to save the world, do you regularly feed your nighbours and their kids??

''If Euro crashes, don't they know their assets will be worthless? ''

No matter what crashes, tangible assets will always retain its value.

Having said that, thinking aloud and empty talks are allowed, afterall, I am only a free spirit.

Have you found a dream Greek dream island for 100,000euro yet.
19:20 November 14, 2011 by jmclewis
German's it is time to leave the EU!
20:38 November 14, 2011 by storymann
Yes make it stronger, who wants to be the first to give up Sovereignty lets run this by the electorate.
21:04 November 14, 2011 by Beachrider
That Germans feel so isolated from their economic bedfellows is astounding. The German economy will certainly have serious issues with potential collapses in Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Spain.

If the Eurozone experiences some serious issues certainly affects the USA. It just doesn't affect the USA as seriously as the Eurozone-itself.

In fact, since free-trade hasn't progressed between the USA and Eurozone, it isn't surprising that the USA+Canada+Mexico are currently setting up a free-trade zone with Asian partners. The new arrangement will certainly take some time to setup, but it is clearly steering the USA economy more-toward the other-end of Eurasia than our traditional limited-trading partners.

By 2050, the USA population of Asian-ancestry voters will exceed our population of Europe-ancestry voters. It is about time to arrange our economy to also benefit from that.
23:47 November 14, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, I do agree with Bundeskanzlerin Merkel, in that this is the most difficult time for Europe since WW2. In one way, the solutions to Europe's problems are actually very simple. In reality, it's either demand a total restructuring of the struggling nations, and then hope it's enough to prevent them from going over the edge. If this fails, then the only alternative would be for those nations to exit the EU.

Sure, a "Partial" dismantle of the EU would hit banks, businesses and citizens very hard. But if healthy EU nations were to implement at least a minor restructuring program, then then would slowly recover and survive.

And so, it's much easier than most people think.

"The truth is very simple and easy, to those that understand it." AD
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