Germany sees growing acceptance of euro austerity drive
(BERLIN) - Germany on Monday said it saw growing acceptance of the austerity drive it has pushed to tackle the eurozone debt crisis despite an apparent voter backlash in several countries.
Asked about Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's anticipated resignation after the collapse of talks on budget-slashing measures, a German finance ministry spokesman said there was no sign the mood in Europe was souring.
"I see no difference from before and after the fiscal pact," spokesman Martin Kotthaus said when asked about acceptance of firmer budgetary discipline agreed last month by 25 of the 27 EU members.
"The mood actually is improving," he told a regular government news conference.
Kotthaus said Germany had "great respect" for debt-mired countries that had "implemented sweeping reforms," singling out the Italian and Spanish governments for praise.
"It is also seen favourably by voters although it can of course mean hardship for individuals," he said.
"For the most part, support for slashing state debt in Europe is clearly growing."
When asked about mass protests in Spain against public spending cuts, he said the EU and the International Monetary Fund were also working to spur on economic growth in the eurozone.
He stressed Berlin's view that the only way to restore the shaken confidence of international markets was to establish strict budgetary discipline in Europe.
Germany as the paymaster for eurozone bailout funds has pushed its neighbours to toe a strict debt-slashing line to tame the debt crisis.
But the move has sparked sharp criticism notably from the United States, the IMF and many European opposition parties, which favour promoting growth with more public spending.
Earlier Chancellor Angela Merkel's deputy spokesman underscored her support for President Nicolas Sarkozy over his Socialist rival Francois Hollande, who has challenged her austerity course, in France's May 6 run-off presidential elections.
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