Without France, Germany, not much possible in Europe: Merkel

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Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that not much was possible in Europe without Franco-German agreement, as she defended a deal struck between Paris and Berlin on European fiscal rules.

"It is true that a Franco-German agreement is not everything in Europe. But without a Franco-German agreement, not much is possible," Merkel said in a speech to parliament ahead of a crunch EU summit on Thursday.

She also reiterated her demand that the EU treaties should be changed to incorporate the proposed alterations.

"We need a new, robust framework. It must be legally watertight and this will happen only with a change of the treaties," Merkel said.

At a meeting in the French town of Deauville last Monday, Merkel and Sarkozy agreed to toughen penalties for EU fiscal sinners, allowing for their voting rights to be temporarily removed in extreme cases.

The deal also calls for the creation of a permanent safety fund for countries in difficulty, a French demand that was formerly opposed by Berlin.

But many countries have taken umbrage at the way a deal was wrapped up between the two European powerhouses without reference to smaller nations.

The head of the eurogroup, the 16 nations that share the single currency, said this style was "simply impossible."

In an interview to appear in Thursday's Die Welt, Jean-Claude Juncker said: "This agreement is not acceptable in its current form, because it does not guarantee a strict course of stability nor a stability pact with bite."

The European parliament's main political groups have also accused France and Germany of imposing their will on the rest of the European Union, with one describing the Deauville accord as a "diktat."

© 2010 AFP

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