Merkel set to rally troops over Europe

14th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek at a party congress Monday to rally her conservatives amid mounting ire at Germany having to stump up the lion's share in fighting Europe's debt crisis.

Merkel, at pains to stress in recent months that if the euro fails, Europe fails, is expected to emphasise the importance of a strong Europe for Germany, to delegates at the two-day party gathering in the eastern city of Leipzig.

"We have a single goal and that is to stabilise the eurozone as it is today, to make it more competitive, to make progress in balancing budgets," she said Thursday.

As the world's number two exporter after China, Germany is Europe's biggest economy and the paymaster for the eurozone's rescue fund, which has already helped bail out Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

But, amid anger at Berlin shouldering the biggest burden, members of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) are putting forward a resolution at the congress to allow for struggling countries to exit the eurozone without leaving the EU.

Germany's news weekly Der Spiegel said in its online edition that it was "remarkable" the CDU, which has always been the "Europe party", was officially discussing the euro exit of some states.

Delegates are also expected to face a motion on overhauling the balance of power within the European Central Bank (ECB) to give Germany a greater say.

The Frankfurt-based central bank's independence is a thorny issue in Germany, still haunted by the hyper-inflation of the 1920s and fearful of seeing it transformed into a money-printing machine.

Some CDU members want votes at the ECB's policy-setting governing council to be weighted according to a country's economic size and importance, rather than each of the 17 eurozone members having an equal say, as is currently the case meaning Germany has no more weight than tiny Malta.

A poll for public broadcaster ZDF released Friday suggested that Merkel's approval rating in her handling of the euro crisis had risen to 56 percent from 45 percent at the beginning of October.

A call for a minimum wage in sectors without one is also expected to focus minds at the Leipzig congress, in a major shift to the centre for Merkel's party.

"The world is changing and a major party like the CDU must find the right approach to these changes on the basis of the values that define us," Merkel, who has been chancellor since 2005, has said.

Die Welt am Sonntag weekly saw the move, together with several other policy changes, as an attempt by Merkel to eye up a possible future tie-up with the opposition Social Democrats or the Greens after the 2013 general election.

© 2011 AFP

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