European heavyweights Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and Jose Manuel Barosso have pledged to work together to ensure stability and growth in the eurozone. They expressed optimism on the future of the currency bloc.
The trio spoke on Monday in Berlin ahead of a meeting with business representatives, and as Cyprus awaits to vote on a bailout that would impose a levy on all bank accounts, a proposal which has sent shockwaves through the eurozone and outraged Cypriot bank account holders.
"In our political functions we have worked to ensure the stability of the eurozone as a whole," said Merkel, the German chancellor, fronting a press conference with French President Hollande and Barroso, the European Commission president.
"We have done this in past years and will continue to do so as we have in these days with Cyprus. Here too we want to ensure the euro remains stable overall," Merkel said.
Barroso said confidence was gradually returning to Europe, but that the crisis was not yet over, "as you can see from the dire growth prospects, record levels of youth unemployment and also the most recent developments concerning Cyprus."
"I am convinced we need to hold our nerve and stay the course," Barosso said.
The three acknowledged more could be done to lift competitiveness in the eurozone.
"We need to create a Europe that has growth, a Europe that has solid finances, that inspires people with hope, that creates jobs for its people," Merkel told the press conference.
"We especially need to create a Europe that is competitive, because if we don't do that, all of these other points will not come to pass."
Hollande said the main priority for the eurozone now was to create growth, as leaders had already done "quite a lot" to stabilize its economy.
"We need to be better in order to face global competition. In order to do that, we need to co-ordinate more," the French president said.
jr/pfd (Reuters, AFP, dpa)