Window to solve debt crisis closing, says German politician


THE OPPORTUNITY to address the financial and sovereign debt crisis in Europe “will soon be past”, according to a senior German politician.

Speaking in Dublin last night, Dr Joachim Pfeiffer, economic policy spokesman for the parliamentary group of the ruling Christian Democrat party, said measures taken thus far had merely “bought time”.

The root cause of the crisis lay in “countries having lived beyond their means for a long time”.

Global financial turmoil since 2008 had worsened the situation, he added, but not created the crisis. In response, the German parliamentarian prioritised the reduction in public debt, the restoration of competitiveness and the stabilisation of financial markets as the most urgent challenges for euro area countries.

Among other things, this would involve strict compliance with new rules on managing public finances and stricter financial market regulation, including fewer speculative products, Dr Pfeiffer said.

“Europe needs a stable union with common values, credible rules and clear sanctions,” he told an audience of Irish and German business people.

He went on to say that despite the many problems facing Europe, some “heartening developments” are already in evidence. These included strong growth in the exports of many crisis-hit countries last year.

Dr Pfeiffer described Ireland as a “model student” in addressing its problems.

He noted that the reward for introducing difficult measures was sharply lower interest rates on outstanding government debt.

He rejected suggestions that the euro had caused the crisis and reaffirmed Germany’s commitment to the single currency.

“The euro is the logical and necessary continuation of the European integration process. It has proven its great advantages,” he said. Dr Pfeiffer was the guest speaker at an event of the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

He will return to Dublin next week to participate in an international conference on the future of Europe.