Merkel stresses need for austerity in EU

Merkel stresses need for austerity in EU

BERLIN - The Associated Press
Merkel stresses need for austerity in EU

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a statement about her government poliuies in Berlin. REUTERS photo

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave little ground to those hoping she would temper her demands for austerity, telling the country’s Parliament yesterday that the only way Europe can recover from its debt crisis is if it perseveres with structural reforms alongside tough measures to bring borrowing levels down.

Merkel dismissed calls to abandon or scale back austerity measures, which involve lower government spending and higher taxes, within the European Union. She insisted that the combination of debt reduction and growth were the “two pillars” of the strategy needed to bring the trade bloc out of the crisis.

“Growth through structural reform is sensible, important and necessary,” she told Parliament. “Growth through debt would throw us back to the beginning of the crisis, and that’s why we haven’t done it and won’t do it.” Debate over the future of European austerity measures has flared up in recent days following elections in France and Greece.

Socialist candidate Francois Hollande won France’s presidential elections on Sunday after campaigning for a greater emphasis on growth in Europe’s crisis management.

Meanwhile, most people voted for anti-austerity parties in Sunday elections in Greece, stoking fears that the country would not meet the commitments it has made in return for bailout money.

Merkel said reducing debt and strengthening competitiveness needed to go hand in hand.

“They aren’t contradictory, they belong together,” she said.