Germany’s Merkel warns against protectionism

March 19th, 2009 - 6:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Berlin, March 19 (DPA) German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Thursday against protectionism in the face of the global economic and financial downturn.
“We will master the crisis together,” she told parliament ahead of a European Union (EU) summit in Brussels Thursday.

Merkel said cooperation was the best way to combat the crisis and restore confidence in the markets.

One of the goals of the two-day EU meeting is to forge a common position on financial market regulation that can be presented to the Group of 20 summit (G20) of industrialised and emerging economies in London April 2.

Merkel cautioned against governments introducing new emergency economic packages before the ones already in place.

“The current measures have to take effect first,” she said. “A bidding war of promises will not calm the situation.”

Merkel said Germany had pumped more than 80 billion euros ($107 billion) into the EU’s 400-billion-euro economic recovery programme, making it one of the biggest contributors.

The EU Commission, she said, could do more by temporarily easing restrictions on subsidies, speeding up decision-making and showing greater flexibility over the stability and growth pact that monitors members’ conduct on fiscal policy.

As the world’s leading exporter, Germany was especially interested in ensuring that “the global economy gets back on its feet”.

She said the EU had been in discussion with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Development Bank about restructuring the banking landscape in Central and Eastern Europe, a region particularly hard hit by the crisis.

“The countries of Central and Eastern Europe are a very important export market for us. If credits and the cash flow there dries up it is not only a blow to these countries but shows that it is in our own interests to take action.

“At the same time, we have to say that the major responsibility lies with the member states themselves or with those countries we want to help,” she added.

Merkel said she hoped the upcoming G20 conference would be able to “agree on a set of principles that ensure we do not live permanently beyond our means”.

“We need good psychological signals from London and not a competition over unrealizable economic recovery packages,” she said.

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