Europe struggles to prepare for the U.S. fiscal cliff

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to members of the media after the Senate Democratic Weekly Policy Luncheon December 4, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

President Obama is due to speak to business leaders today to try and rally support for his plan to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Many U.S. businesses say they would have to lay off workers if the U.S. goes over the cliff but there are also implications for the rest of the world. Europe, for example, is already struggling with a difficult financial situation and the U.S. predicament could make matters worse.

Right now, says the BBC's economics correspondent Andrew Walker, a lot of people in Europe are assuming that some sort of last minute deal will be reached in Congress.

"But as the last minute gets closer to the present day," he says, "I think doubts are growing about whether the U.S. will manage to avoid it."

The U.S. is a very important export market for many European countries and a significant downturn would affect the sales of major exporters, like Germany.

But despite growing doubts the U.S. will be able to avoid falling over the cliff, Walker says there is little Europe can do to prepare itself specifically for that eventuality.

“What you would need to do to minimize the damage is to just ensure the European economy is in general terms as resilient as possible," says Walker. "Of course, there is a big effort going on to try and do that in the context of responding to the European debt crisis -- it’s just that they’re making very slow progress.”

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