Europe on collision course with US over financial crisis

March 12th, 2009 - 11:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Berlin, March 12 (DPA) Europe looks set for a collision course with the US over solutions to the global economic crisis, as Germany and France jointly called Thursday for greater regulation of financial markets.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy presented a united front at talks in Berlin, opposing US demands for increased economic stimulus to tackle the crisis.

“We represent entirely the same position,” Merkel said at the bilateral summit meeting, adding that economic rescue packages, “can under no circumstances replace the necessary regulation” of the financial markets.

Sarkozy fell into step with Merkel. “The problem is not spending more money, but putting in place financial systems of regulation,” he said at a joint press conference.

The joint message stands in contrast to US demands for more government involvement to halt the global economic slide.

US President Barack Obama said Wednesday that greater government stimulus would be a top US priority at the Group of 20 (G20) gathering of world leading economies in London next month.

The French and German leaders said they were espousing the priorities agreed upon at a meeting of the European members of the G20 in Berlin last month.

This position, they said, would be further reinforced when EU leaders meet in Brussels at the end of next week, ahead of April’s G20 summit in London.

Merkel said the fact that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had been present at the Berlin summit in February made her “very optimistic that the European position has not changed since the meeting in Berlin.”

The German chancellor is travelling to Britain Friday for talks with Brown. In an address to the US Congress last week, the British premier had called on world governments to act to stimulate their economies.

Sarkozy and Merkel also issued a joint call for stronger measures against tax havens. “We need the courage to name countries,” the French president said. The leaders said they would issue a joint statement ahead of the G20 summit.

Merkel said they were already registering initial successes, in reference to the fact that the Principality of Liechtenstein had agreed to make its financial sector more transparent.

At the bilateral talks, Merkel also welcomed France’s decision to return to NATO’s military command structure, saying it was a “brave” move, which “strengthened the European component of the alliance.”

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