German Foreign Minister Westerwelle has said he fears for Europe's future financial viability. He advocated in a speech on Thursday tougher eurozone regulations, including sanctions to punish high deficits.
Westerwelle said a hard euro wasn't compatible with soft rules
The European Union will be put to the test unless it tightens the measures in its Stability and Growth Pact, according to German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
Westerwelle said in a keynote speech to the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin on Thursday that he was worried about Europe, "because we will lose the people's support if we simply proceed with our agenda after this crisis."
Merkel and Sarkozy agreed to fight against automatically imposed sanctions
"It is crucial that sanctions are not subjected to political opportunism," Westerwelle said.
Merkel's decision seemed to take Westerwelle and other members of the governing coalition by surprise, but she insisted on Thursday that she and Westerwelle were on the same page regarding the proposal.
"We are completely in agreement," Merkel said, "that we should get a clear mandate for devising treaty changes by early next year, so these can be implemented by individual states by 2013."
Previously, Merkel had supported the idea of more automatic sanctions that would take politics out of the equation, and her change of tune is seen by some as caving in to pressure from France.
'More sanctions, please'
Westerwelle also warned against isolationist politics within the EU's 27 member nations, saying that another financial crisis could ruin the fruits of decades of European politics.
"That's why it's so important that we act consistently and decisively in the interest of Europe's inner cohesion," he said. "A hard euro can't tolerate soft rules."
Westerwelle referred to the 22 proceedings brought against EU member states for acute deficits in the past few years. He said sanctions had not been applied in a single one of these cases.
The foreign minister called for a mechanism to place sanctions on countries with bulging deficits, including bigger EU states. The eurozone, Westerwelle said, needed such a system to be consistent and ensure impartiality.
"It makes a big practical difference if sanctions are passed by a two-thirds majority, or blocked by a two-thirds majority," he said.
Westerwelle also countered those who might express discouragement with the European common currency, stressing that re-nationalization was not an option in the wake of the Greek debt crisis.
Author: David Levitz, Matt Zuvela (AP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Ian P. Johnson
The World Cup may be over but behind the scenes, transfer deals are being done as Bundesliga clubs prepare for the season ahead by bringing in new recruits. Keep up with the latest moves here.
World-renowned German artist Gregor Schneider has covered a synagogue near Cologne with the façade of a drab suburban house. But by hiding it, he challenges visitors to look more closely at history and memory.
The US and EU appear set to impose new sanctions targeting Russia's financial, defense and energy sectors in response to the unrest in Ukraine. Negotiations will continue in Brussels on Tuesday.