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BBC World Service

Merkel calls euro debt crisis a ‘marathon’

Steve Evans Dec 2, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: European leaders are trying to outline a new economic structure for Europe, and one that would restrict out-of-control spending by individual countries. That’s a rule the European Central Bank wants implemented in order to help keep Europe afloat.

The BBC’s Steve Evans is with us now from Berlin, and that’s where German chancellor Angela Merkel just wrapped up a speech
calling the debt crisis a “marathon session.” Good morning Steve.

Steve Evans: Hi, good morning to you.

Chiotakis: I want you to sort of paint us a picture. What’s this new, improved eurozone going to look like?

Evans: Well, assuming it’s negotiated — and that’s a big if — it will be much tighter; there will be much more control of the finances of the individual countries. What Chancellor Merkel wants is strict rules for taxation and spending by all the 17 countries in the euro zone and she wants treaties to be changed to enforce that. The big question of course is, how can you enforce that? She reckons it can be done by the courts — if countries don’t keep within their spending agreed limits, then they go to court, that’s what she’s proposing.

Chiotakis: I know banks are already signaling that they believe this plan would reduce risk in Europe. Why is this plan any more effective than ones that have come out before?

Evans: I think that the markets are looking at the words spoken by the new head of the European Central Bank yesterday where with a nudge and a wink he seemed to be indicating there would be a bit more money available than under the old regime if you like. What Mrs. Merkel said didn’t sound that different to me from what she’s said before. But the markets are thinking, well okay, she’s talking tough to the German people, but actually there’s a real change going on behind the scenes.

Chiotakis: The BBC’s Steve Evans in Berlin. Steve, thank you.

Evans: You’re welcome.

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