混迷ギリシャ 独仏は協調し危機封じ込めを

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 18, 2012)
Hollande, Merkel should bridge gap to contain Greek crisis
混迷ギリシャ 独仏は協調し危機封じ込めを(5月17日付・読売社説)

The political turmoil in Greece has deepened after negotiations to form a coalition government fell apart following a general election in which no party secured a majority in parliament. A new election will take place next month.

The international community is now casting anxious eyes on whether the eurozone economies can unite anew to prevent the debt crisis from flaring up again on the continent.

Parties that oppose Greece's austerity measures, such as the Radical Left Coalition (Syriza), may significantly increase the number of their seats in the next general election scheduled for mid-June. Such a situation could severely hinder Greece from compiling the necessary support for further spending cuts, a precondition for receiving financial support from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

After the collapse of the power-sharing talks, stock prices dropped across the board in global markets, including those in Europe, the United States and Japan, and the euro plunged. The markets' reactions reflect growing awareness that Greece's exit from the eurozone has become a real possibility.

If the Greek crisis once again spills over to Spain and Italy, both of whom are rebuilding their finances, it would then spread to other eurozone economies and jeopardize the foundation of the European economy.

Exports from China and other emerging economies to Europe will inevitably slow down if the financial crisis in Europe worsens, which would have a huge impact on the global economy. Europe is China's biggest market.


Efforts to deter market fears

Newly elected French President Francois Hollande flew to Berlin shortly after taking office to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The meeting was apparently meant to defuse market fears regarding the Greek crisis by emphasizing the willingness of the two countries to take the initiative in resolving it.

Hollande and Merkel stressed they want Greece to stay in the eurozone. Regarding growth strategy for Europe, which has become the focal point in dealing with the financial crisis, Merkel expressed her plan to prepare specific proposals with France by an EU summit meeting scheduled for late June.

It is meaningful that the two leaders have agreed that Europe should not only focus on austerity measures, and acknowledged the necessity of a new growth strategy. We ask Germany and France to do their best to contain the financial crisis.


Difference between 2 leaders

However, Merkel and Hollande differ fundamentally in their positions for dealing with the crisis, which could cast a shadow on their cooperation.

Hollande has demanded renegotiation of the EU's new budget discipline treaty--which was spearheaded by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy--to include pro-growth elements in the pact. In domestic politics, Hollande has promised the French public to implement certain stimulus measures, such as hiring an additional 60,000 teachers.

In contrast, Merkel has put her priority on fiscal discipline. She has not changed her position of rejecting renegotiation of the new treaty, which 25 EU members--all but Britain and the Czech Republic--have signed.

Will Europe be able to devote sufficient attention to growth strategy while maintaining budget discipline? Germany and France should accelerate their efforts to build a consensus on devising a specific growth strategy and on whether to renegotiate the budget discipline treaty.

Europe's financial crisis is expected to top the agenda at a Group of Eight summit meeting scheduled for this weekend in the United States.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda should ask Europe to settle the financial crisis as soon as possible. It is essential for Japan, which has yet to experience a full-fledged economic recovery, to prevent the excessive strength of the yen from becoming the status quo due to the turmoil in the Europe.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 17, 2012)
(2012年5月17日01時10分 読売新聞)

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