Europe moving to eurozone govt structure: Fillon

21st October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Europe is moving towards an economic government for the 17-nation eurozone, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Friday ahead of what he called a "decisive" summit on the bloc's debt crisis.

"Europe is moving resolutely towards an economic government of the eurozone," he told South Korean business chiefs at a seminar in Seoul.

Sunday's European Union summit would be a "decisive meeting", he said, although another summit is already planned for Wednesday as the eurozone battles to prevent Greece's problems from spilling over more widely.

Fillon said the crisis had exposed the "oversights" in the continent's monetary union, and the world economy and governance was approaching a "moment of truth".

But he stressed: "Today Europe is faced with a new challenge. As she has always done in the past, she will overcome the tests and emerge strengthened.

"I encourage you to have confidence in Europe," Fillon told members of the French-Korean chamber of commerce and other Korean business leaders, ahead of a weekend visit to Japan.

EU ministers were to begin pre-summit talks Friday, amid hopes their leaders will agree to strengthen Europe's financial rescue facility and to recapitalise banks.

But rifts over how to solve the eurozone debt crisis which threatens the world economy have forced the zone to call a fresh summit next Wednesday.

Fillon is the first French prime minister to visit South Korea in 20 years. He later met his counterpart Kim Hwang-Sik for talks on ways to strengthen trade and investment cooperation, after a free trade agreement between South Korea and the EU went into force in July.

Thanks to the pact, annual trade between France and South Korea is expected to surpass $10 billion this year for the first time, Kim's office said.

Two-way trade was worth $9.15 billion in the first eight months of this year compared to $7.28 billion for all of 2010.

Fillon and Kim agreed their countries will work closely to secure balanced cooperation between advanced and developing economies, the office said.

France is the current chair of the Group of 20 leading economies and will host a G20 summit in Cannes from November 3-4, while Korea held the post last year.

On North Korea, Kim's office said the leaders agreed that the communist state must demonstrate its commitment to denuclearisation as diplomatic efforts continue to revive six-nation disarmament talks.

Kim expressed appreciation for the French government's support for Seoul's efforts to resolve the North's nuclear issue and asked for continued cooperation, the office said.

Fillon later paid a courtesy call on President Lee Myung-Bak and was to meet French residents in the evening before departing for Japan Saturday.

© 2011 AFP

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