Europe needs unity, economic success for global say: Merkel
(BERLIN) - Europe can only exert an influence on the world stage if it speaks with one voice, solves its debt crisis and bolsters its own economic power, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday.
Speaking to the Berlin press corps, Merkel noted that Europe's percentage of the world population had shrunk dramatically in the past 60 years, reducing the influence of individual EU countries at a global level.
"We can only have a say in the world if we are united in the European Union. And we can only have a say if we are economically successful. Not at the cost of other regions but in fair competition with other regions," said Merkel.
"It is extremely important that Europe pulls closer together because individual countries cannot have as big an influence with their own voices as when we act together," added the chancellor.
"Luckily we are united and now we have to make sure that what we have agreed on -- for example the common currency -- actually works."
Merkel's comments came as a new poll showed nearly two thirds of Germans thought they would be better off if they had not swapped their beloved deutschmark for the euro.
And the chancellor said Germany should not sacrifice its export strength for the sake of correcting imbalances destabilising the eurozone but stressed the importance of bolstering domestic demand.
"Germany is not just following a policy aimed at consolidation and austerity ... but we are also trying to bolster domestic demand," said Merkel.
She reiterated that she was "strongly convinced" that the eurozone would emerge stronger from the crisis than it was before the near three-year long drama began.
She said that the 17-nation bloc was "step-by-step overcoming the crisis" but repeated that the problems would not be solved at a stroke.
"When you look at the last two and a half years, more has happened in Europe than in many, many previous years," said Merkel.
"Now is exactly the right moment to tackle our weaknesses."
Text and Picture Copyright 2012 AFP. All other Copyright 2012 EUbusiness Ltd. All rights reserved. This material is intended solely for personal use. Any other reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of the copyright owner is strictly forbidden and any breach of copyright will be considered actionable.