Conservative leaders from the EU have met in Finland, aiming to head into a eurozone summit next week with a unified stance. Chancellor Merkel has been pushing her plan to punish states that live above their means.
Merkel's plan punishes spendthrift eurozone members
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with fellow conservative party leaders from across the European Union in Helsinki on Friday, March 4, pushing a plan she devised with France to strengthen the bloc's common currency.
"Together, we can only safeguard the euro if we are really strong, if we keep order in our households, and if we sharpen the stability pact," Merkel said at the meeting of the European People's Party, an alliance of center-right parties from EU member states.
The stability pact, which sets a public deficit limit of three percent of gross domestic product for eurozone members, has been poorly handled and enforced for years, Merkel said. Her plan to reform the pact involves tough penalties for states that overspend.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also attended the meeting, telling reporters that while the EU's economic outlook was improving, the bloc had yet to address problems of sovereign debt.
"Part of the problem is that some member states did not respect the strict discipline that was in the European treaties," he said.
The meeting came a week before a eurozone summit in Brussels on March 11.
Author: Andrew Bowen (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Toma Tasovac