Merkel comes under pressure over Greece rescue plan ahead of summit | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 23.03.2010
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Europe

Merkel comes under pressure over Greece rescue plan ahead of summit

Germany faces pressure over its resistance to a bail-out for debt-ridden Greece as EU leaders prepare to meet. EU Commission President Barroso, however, has said he believes Chancellor Merkel will agree to a rescue plan.

A Greek flag with life ring in German colors

Merkel insists that Greece hasn't even asked for a bailout yet

Germany is braced for further confrontation with fellow EU members this week as the row intensified over aid for debt-ridden Greece on Monday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that there was "no question of an urgent decision in the European Council about aid for Greece" when EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday.

Merkel said that because Greece had yet not asked for a bailout, the matter should not be considered.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Merkel said that the Greece rescue package should not be on the summit agenda

But calls for action came as EU foreign ministers met on Monday in the run-up to the leaders' summit, led by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Action to protect stability

Barroso said that action was necessary before faith in the economic stability of the euro zone – and the euro itself – was undermined.

"We need a decision at this summit," warned Barroso. "We can't keep going this way, we risk endangering the stability of the euro zone and feeding speculation."

Calls for intervention in the debt crisis faced by Greece, which has introduced austerity measures of its own, were echoed at the Brussels meeting by countries including France and Italy.

"The French position is very clear," said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. "We cannot, we must not abandon our Greek friends."

'Not in total agreement'

After the meeting, Kouchner added that "on this issue, we are not totally in agreement with our German friends."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had resisted the idea of any immediate rescue plan at the meeting.

"At the moment we see no need to make a final decision on any kind of option," said Westerwelle.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

Barroso expressed confidence that Merkel will help

In an interview with the Financial Times published on Tuesday, the commission president said he was confident that Germany would provide financial help if necessary.

"I know Chancellor Angela Merkel," said Barroso. "She is a committed European and I have no doubts that she will, if needed, be in favor of providing financial assistance to Greece."

Greek Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Monday accused Berlin of allowing its banks to take part in a "deplorable game" of speculating on Greek bonds while German exporters profited from a weaker euro due to Athens' budget problems.

rc/Reuters/AFP/AP/dpa
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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