Germany 'considering postponing EU summit': reports

20th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany is mulling a second postponement of a make-or-break EU summit amid differences over how Europe's bailout fund should function, German newspapers reported Thursday, citing government sources.

"The federal government no longer rules out a postponement of the summit in Brussels due to the faltering talks over the so-called leveraging of the euro rescue fund," the Die Welt daily said in a pre-release of Friday's edition.

Neither Chancellor Angela Merkel's office nor French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office could immediately be reached for comment but EU diplomats in Brussels said the reports were "not serious."

Merkel cancelled at short notice a long-planned meeting with regional culture ministers that had been scheduled in Berlin for Thursday.

The EU summit was originally scheduled for October 17-18 but it was postponed to Sunday to give officials more time to prepare what has been billed as a "comprehensive plan" to save the euro.

On October 9, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Merkel said they would come up with a joint plan "by the end of the month."

But Europe has since been beset by disagreements over how best to beef up the 440-billion-euro (605-billion-dollar) European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

The Financial Times Deutschland also reported that the summit is hanging on a knife-edge.

The idea of postponing the summit was raised at a meeting late Wednesday between Merkel, Sarkozy and several top EU officials in Frankfurt, the FTD reported.

Everything depends on a meeting of deputy finance ministers in Brussels to be held on Thursday evening, the newspaper added.

Earlier Thursday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that France and Germany had a common position on the fund but that did not yet represent a European solution.

"France and Germany have a completely agreed position on these questions, but we know ... that this is not a European solution," Schaeuble told reporters.

"France and Germany have a responsibility to lead in Europe but that does not replace discussions that are being carried out by all 17 member states" that share the euro, he added.

Stock markets and the euro both declined sharply on the reports as traders expressed disappointment that an accord was apparently still far from being nailed down.

© 2011 AFP

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