Opinion: Merkel stands firm at G20 | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 20.06.2012
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Opinion: Merkel stands firm at G20

Angela Merkel brushed off criticism of her focus on austerity in the eurozone. In Los Cabos the EU spoke with one voice saying controversies over how to save the euro will be decided elsewhere, says DW's Mirjam Gehrke.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel can mark the G20 summit as a success. She withstood the criticism coming from the United States and emerging economies. She seemed little impressed and refused to move away from her stance or agree to grant more concessions to Greece. On the contrary, in Los Cabos she left no doubt that she expected Greece to fulfill its obligations as soon as possible. This is not necessarily a step closer towards finding a solution to the eurozone crisis, but at least the EU has shown a united front. The Greek election results confirming the country's pro-EU course certainly have had their share in that too.

A given or an actual success?

Mirjam Gehrke

DW's Mirjam Gehrke says Merkel's perseverance has paid off

The results of the G20 summit are limited. The eurozone countries agree to step up their efforts to stabilize their common currency and regain the trust of financial markets. In return, the G20 has acknowledged that Europe has already made some progress on the issue. US President Barack Obama, the strongest non-European critic of Merkel's iron austerity policy, has even said he sees a new mindset across Europe and has expressed his understanding of Brussels' approach to tackle the crisis. So quarrelling was yesterday - as of now, the G20 members want to work together to foster growth and minimize tensions on the international financial markets. This was the message of the Los Cabos summit.

This is what should have been expected from the G20. The group of the 20 leading industrialized nations represents about 80 percent of the global GDP, three quarters of the world's trade and around two thirds of the world's population. In the light of these statistics, the actual impact of the G20 grouping is that of a toothless tiger. Since the collapse of Lehmann, when the global economy was on the brink of chaos, the group has been meeting regularly. At the end though there are promises and good intentions - but never any binding decisions.

Los Cabos is no exception to that rule. After Cannes last November, it is the second time that a G20 summit was dominated by the euro crisis. But that crisis will need to be solved at a different level. The EU summit at the end of June must live up to the G20's expectations and not fall short of what's been promised in Los Cabos.

Smart role play

The cool, stoic Merkel and the emotional Jose Manuel Barroso, who denied any attempt for others to tell the EU what to do, and the rather pale Herman van Rompuy as the man in the middle between those two extremes: Their different roles within the EU have also worked well in Los Cabos. They were able to prevent Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy from getting too much attention - his country wants to use the June summit to officially ask for EU aid for recapitalizing its ailing banks. It is unclear however whether the planned 100 billion euros ($127 billion) will be enough. What is certain is that the question of saving Spain will be the next and possibly crucial test for the eurozone - and the global economy.

Should Brussels pass this test, the next G20 summit might actually focus on those issues that where supposed to be on the Los Cabos agenda but got pushed to the sidelines by the euro crisis: green growth and food security. After all, the fight against hunger is not only won at the world's stock exchanges.

Author: Mirjam Gehrke /ai
Editor: Sean Sinico