Merkel meets with union lead­ers over debt cri­sis

The Washington Times Daily - - Business -

BER­LIN | Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel met with union lead­ers from across Europe on Thurs­day to dis­cuss the euro­zone debt cri­sis — a meet­ing they said was a wel­come gesture but un­der­lined dif­fer­ences over the aus­ter­ity poli­cies Mrs. Merkel has fa­vored.

Ger­many, Europe’s big­gest econ­omy, has stressed that its part­ners in the euro­zone must get their public fi­nances in or­der and has cham­pi­oned la­bor mar­ket re­forms. That ap­proach has led to big spend­ing cuts in strug­gling coun­tries and has been met by strikes.

“It was im­por­tant that these talks took place at all,” Michael Som­mer, Ger­many’s top union of­fi­cial, told re­porters af­ter the meet­ing. “From my point of view, it was a nec­es­sary piece of con­fi­dence-build­ing, and more must fol­low.”

He said that “noth­ing went un­said” and the two sides agreed that more needs to be done to use ex­ist­ing Euro­pean Union funds to help re­vive strug­gling coun­tries.

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