Merkel seeks Polish support for euro zone reforms


GERMAN CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel appealed to Poland yesterday to sign up to plans to reform the euro zone as the Franco-German proposals continued to elicit a hostile reaction in many European countries.

The spillover from a fractious summit last week turned talks in Warsaw yesterday between German, French and Polish leaders into an exercise in papering over the cracks.

Polish prime minister Donald Tusk says he had “serious doubts” about the so-called “pact for competitiveness”, suggesting it will result in a two-speed Europe.

Dr Merkel rejected claims that existing members were working to exclude non-members.

“We would like to invite countries that don’t yet have the euro to participate,” said Dr Merkel at a joint news conference in Warsaw after talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Poland’s president Bronislaw Komorowski.

The meeting of the three leaders was the latest attempt to revive the “Weimar Triangle”, a trilateral structure created in 1991 that is periodically revived and subsequently ignored by Berlin and Paris, to the annoyance of Warsaw.

This time around, however, it is Germany and France which have the greatest interest in the structure. The euro zone crisis, combined with record domestic growth, has given Poland cold feet over adopting the common currency.

Aware of the dangerous precedent that sets, German and French officials are anxious to win over Warsaw.

“This pact, where there are most opportunities for reforms, is open and we would like to see our Polish friends . . . participate because they are a reform-friendly country with a tradition of [fiscal] consolidation,” said Dr Merkel.

At last Friday’s summit she was upbraided by Mr Tusk for agreeing to the French demand for euro zone-only meetings which, he said, would create a “divide” in the union.

“Are we standing in your way?” asked Mr Tusk of Dr Merkel, according to diplomats present at the meeting. “Do you really think you have the right to treat others in this manner?”

At least five central European leaders have added their voices to those from Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg critical of the Franco-German plan.

Dr Merkel brushed off the concerns yesterday, insisting that the reforms were essential and that euro zone meetings would be limited in frequency.