Merkel and EU conservatives hashing out debt limit pact
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Helsinki on Friday that the European Union's conservative heads of state and government were committed to hashing out a proposal they hope will strengthen the euro.
"We want to prepare the summit of the 11th, to make the euro a strong currency and to strengthen European competitiveness," she told reporters as she entered a meeting of the European People's Party (EPP) hosted by Finnish Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen.
The plan, already outlined by Germany and France, is a "competitiveness pact" which would impose stringent rules governing national fiscal policy on all EU member states.
The EPP is meeting to smooth out the details among the various conservative parties in the European parliament ahead of the eurozone summit on March 11, set to discuss, among other things, the state of the bloc's financial safeguarding mechanisms.
The European stability mechanism (ESM) is the permanent institution that will take over anti-crisis management of the eurozone in 2013 from the Commission's temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), which was created in the wake of the Greek financial crisis.
The Commission is working to strengthen its fund's ability to bail out economies in trouble, but France and Germany have also been campaigning for stronger measures to keep national debts down and to punish members who exceed debt levels.
© 2011 AFP