France, Germany outline eurozone reform proposals

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have sent a letter to the European Council outlining their plan for saving the eurozone, the French presidency said Wednesday.

The letter, to council president Herman Van Rompuy, outlines proposals made to amend policies governing the eurozone, known collectively as the Economic and Monetary Union, after the two met Monday to reform eurozone governance and enforce budgetary discipline to tackle the debt crisis.

"We must significantly consolidate the foundations of the EMU," they said. "Along with a common currency, a solid economic pillar is indispensable, based on reinforced governance to ensure budget discipline as well as stronger growth and increased competitiveness," they said.

"To reach these goals, we need a renewed contract between eurozone member states."

The letter outlines proposals including monthly meetings of eurozone leaders during the crisis, the adoption of legal or constitutional limits on budget deficits and automatic sanctions for states whose deficits exceed three percent of GDP.

The letter said Paris and Berlin hope that all 27 European Union members would sign on to the new rules but if not, "states whose currency is the euro should move forward" on their own.

"We are convinced that we must act without delay," the letter said, adding that the articles of a new treaty should be ready by the end of next March.

The letter was released ahead of a crunch summit opening in Brussels on Thursday that is widely seen as the last chance to save the euro.

© 2011 AFP

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