Barroso defends Merkel over austerity

Germany not to blame for crisis, says European Commission president

European Commission  president José Manuel Barroso: “What is happening in France and Portugal is not the fault of Mrs Merkel or Germany and it is unfair to present measures as being demanded by individual countries or institutions.” Photograph: Alan Betson

European Commission president José Manuel Barroso: “What is happening in France and Portugal is not the fault of Mrs Merkel or Germany and it is unfair to present measures as being demanded by individual countries or institutions.” Photograph: Alan Betson

 

After earning Berlin’s ire for suggesting Europe had reached the “limits of austerity”, European Commission president José Manuel Barroso has insisted Germany is not responsible for the financial difficulties of its neighbours.

Mr Barroso insisted that the austerity measures being implemented in euro crisis countries were the direct result of unsustainable domestic policies and nothing to do with the German leader.

“What is happening in France and Portugal is not the fault of Mrs Merkel or Germany and it is unfair to present measures as being demanded by individual countries or institutions,” said Mr Barroso to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Mr Barroso praised the German leader, calling her “one of if not the leading personality at European level who understands best what is happening at present.

“She invests a lot of energy in the European project, something I wish I could claim of all European government heads,” he said.


Hegemony
Mr Barroso rejected talk of the rise of a German hegemony in the crisis-wracked EU, saying Berlin had been forced into its current leadership role by circumstance and not by design. After dishing out the compliments, Mr Barroso repeated his warning about the danger of a one-sided response to the euro crisis.

“Growth that is based on debt is not sustainable. At the same time, the policies that people see as pure austerity have reached their limits of political and social acceptance,” he said. “But the EU Commission believes the current policy mix is right and we must continue it.”

He warned Germany not to become complacent in its reform efforts because it was performing better than its neighbours. “Complacency would be dangerous for Germany. We should not forget how tightly interlinked the European economy is. And Germany benefits most from the European internal market and from a stable euro.”