Merkel praises Italian premier on a day of optimism | News | DW | 13.03.2012
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Merkel praises Italian premier on a day of optimism

Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised Italian leader Mario Monti for "courageous reforms" in dealing with his country’s financial problems. On a day of optimism, Monti claimed that the worst of the euro crisis was over.

Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti for implementing "bold" reforms as Italy worked to deal with its financial problems. Merkel said the EU need to grow and be more competitive as it defended itself from emerging economies.

With Merkel at his side, Monti claimed the European Union's acute financial crisis seemed to be easing, and that the continent would have to focus increasingly on growth. His comments came on a day of relative good news for European economies.

"We discussed with the chancellor that during this phase of European life in which the most acute phase of the financial crisis appears to be definitively over, we certainly cannot relax," said Monti, after the two held private talks in Rome. "The EU must enter a phase in which it gives the same attention to growth, especially in youth employment."

Borrowing costs fall, markets bouyant

Earlier in the day, Italy had raised 12 billion euros ($15.74 billion) with relative ease in a short-term bond auction that once again saw its borrowing costs drop. Meanwhile European shares rallied and a monthly index from German think-tank ZEW showed confidence in the economy had risen more than expected.

The ratings agency Fitch on Tuesday upgraded Greece from “restricted default” to a "B-" rating with a stable outlook, responding to the bond swap that wiped some 100 billion euros from the country's debt.

Meanwhile, Monti dismissed reports that he could be nominated to lead the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers. "Do you think an Italian prime minister can take on extra duties?" Monti said.

rc/mll (AFP, dpa)