Merkel And Hollande Vow To Help Eurozone
Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel vowed to steer Europe through the economic storm after figures showed the eurozone narrowly avoiding a double-dip recession.
The single currency bloc's economy saw zero growth in the first three months of the year, beating forecasts of -0.2% and following a contraction of 0.3% in the final quarter of 2011.
The region has been dragged down by the debt crisis in southern Europe, led by Greece, which saw its economy contract by an annual rate of 6.2% as doubts were cast over its future membership of the single currency.
The data was released hours before the German Chancellor, who backs tough debt-cutting programmes, met with Mr Hollande in Berlin.
In a joint press conference Mrs Merkel said it was Germany's duty to help Greece grow as a nation.
Mr Hollande said France would do all it could to help keep Greece in the eurozone and vowed to work closely with Germany for the good of Europe.
The bloc's latest data was boosted by better-than-expected growth in Germany, the eurozone's largest economy.
Gross domestic product (GDP) in Germany rose by 0.5 % in the first quarter of the year, bouncing back from a 0.2% slide in the last three months of 2011.
But while Germany's robust growth confounded expectations, the region's next biggest economy, France, stagnated, showing no growth at all.
The divergent performance of the eurozone's two largest economies fuelled an austerity versus growth debate as the bloc teeters on the edge of a new crisis, centred on fears that Greece may be forced to leave the euro.
IMF chief Christine Lagarde has said that she hopes Greece will not leave, but added: "We have to be technically prepared for anything".
The debt-laden country is facing fresh elections next month after talks between its political leaders to try to form a coalition government collapsed following inconclusive polls eight days ago.
Opinion polls show anti-bailout, anti-austerity parties would perform most strongly in a new vote, placing doubt over whether or not Athens will sign up to a plan agreed with the EU and the International Monetary Fund to save it from bankrupcy.
But while the uncertainty has led to a number of key figures openly discussing the country's exit from the union, that suggestion was dismissed as "nonsense and propaganda" by EU policymakers.
Speaking after hours of talks in Brussels among the 17 finance ministers from the eurozone countries, group chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said: "I don't envisage, not even for one second, Greece leaving the euro area.
"This is nonsense; this is propaganda. The exit of Greece out of the euro was not the subject of our debate today. Absolutely no-one, absolutely no-one, argued in that sense.
"But the Greek public, the Greek citizens, have to know that we agreed on a programme and this programme has to be implemented."
EU officials have stressed that room for renegotiation of the 130bn euro bailout is limited, although Mr Juncker appeared to offer some leeway to Athens, if Greek parties manage to overcome differences and back the bailout reform plan.
Chancellor George Osborne criticised countries for speculating over Greece's possible exit from the euro.
"The eurozone crisis is very serious and it's having a real impact on economic growth across the European continent, including in Britain, and it's the uncertainty that's causing the damage," he said.
But with official data showing the UK slipped into a double-dip recession in the first three months of the year, the Chancellor's economic policy - and austerity measures - are set to come under further pressure now that the eurozone narrowly avoided a recession.
Ministers blamed the recent contraction in the economy on the crisis on the eurozone.
The latest economic data helped calm Europe's main financial markets, which plummeted on Monday as investors' fears over a Greek exit from the single currency intensified.
what do you think?
There is some serious meddling going on here mark my words. Probably blackmail as well. I found the response from the eurozone ministers that "Greece exiting the euro is not on the cards" truly frightening. It appears the eu is trying to over ride democracy with its own agenda. The Greek people have spoken. Set them free to rebuild their country
Why would anyone listen to Radio 4 for unbiased comment ? The BBC are an unofficial propaganda unit for the EU and receives EU cash. However in answer to your question about Greece, it's a bit like asking someone if they want to die or be shot. Greece is screwed in or out of the euro - the big differece is that "out", it regains it's freedom to self determination, to rebuild and renew.
Mavis - the scary bit of all this is the prolonging of the inevitable. The longer this goes on the more horrific will be the backlash. Best to lance the boil as soon as possible and then we can get back to 'normal'.
greece should go bankrupt and have dracma again. only big business want euro, it is inflationary and leads to unemployment. trade booths close, small companies can't undercut large corporations on currency differences. it is a con. when greece goes the whole lot goes. globalisation and oil two main enemies of man the bankers control. when greece goes that will take down french banks which will take down british banks. globalisation is stupid let the whole lot go. no big deal in essence just numbers on a screen. when debt is written off the public sector wont need cutting asmuch, also taxes to businesses can be cut. and welfare programmes slimmed down effectively.
Speaking after six hours of talks in Brussels among the 17 ministers from the eurozone countries, group chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said: "I don't envisage, not even for one second, Greece leaving the euro area. That means they are on the way out and the eu know it
even ppl i know in city say they will leave euro. when greece goes the whole lot does. anyone notice sky news today it did not show ftse properly like norm. perhaps to prevent a run. market traders like bankers are stupid when greece goes france will go when france goes uk will go and all debt will be written off simple. it is only on a screen lets face it woolworths employed more people than bonds and gilts markets do. no big deal in essence.
Let us not forget Spain, Portugal, Italy etc are waiting to see what happens
Syriza have the right idea. They are in tune with the Greek people. Hopefully, they should win a stronger vote at the next elections and will be able to tear up the punishing 'agreement' imposed by the EU, nationalise their banks and start looking after their people. With France on their side as anti-austerity supporters and more to follow, hopefully our fight against Tory cuts will get even more support.
Yeah right and who is going to pay for this wishful thinking Chris, the tooth fairy?
The everlasting socialist dream eh, Chris,...............except when there's no-one else to pay for it. Mutti Merkel and Germany have decided to withdraw the teat and impse "austerity", otherwise known as "living within your means". A concept socialists have difficulty understanding.
So the eurozone misses a double dip but we hit it badly. In 2010 Osbourne said that we would be out of debt by 2015 due to his ideas. Now he says it will be 2020 but financial departments say it will be about 2050 because Osbourne and Cameron and Mervyn King are destroying the economy and 98% of the population and allowing all UK firms to sell them to foreigners. It is estimated that by 2015 we will not have any UK firms and we will be in debt to 9.2 trillion pounds which will be the highest in the world.
Can somebody tell me if I've got this right.......Germany is now telling Greece what it can and can't do regarding their membership of the euro so in effect they are ordering Greece and the Greek people to do what they want.
You could put it that way but the Greek government should have seen this coming long before they joined the single currency. If you go into business with someone who has all the brains, the cash and the equipment, what do you expect ?
Many thanks Edgar :0)
No Raymond that is definately NOT the case at all. Germany (who is footing the bill) is simply arguing their own thoughts on the best way forward for Greece, ultimately it is for the Greeks to make their own decision! You guys should stop trying to continually demonise the Germans!
And that is sort of what Edgar is saying Mavis. The one size (doesn't) fit all Euro, prevents divergent economies adjusting relative to their weaknesses or strengths. German exports priced in lower Euros held down in value by the other weaker Euro economies, which in turn are being driven lower and weaker against a more highly industrialised Germany. Until, of course the unbalanced situation cannot continue. A wise man (can't remember hs name) once said, if something cannot continue, then it won't.
gengistan, the one size fits all policy on the Euro can't possibly work while each state is pursuing its own financial and fiscal policy. By the same token, the USA Dollar only works because their individual states are as one country, ie UNITED STATES of AMERICA. It took a bl**dy civil war to get that right!
Its no good the eurozone coming round here with the begging bowl, WE AINT GOT ANY SPARE CASH. or so the powers that be keep tellings us!
yep till they came up with ten billion quid to give to them the other day ,wonder where that came from .No money ! they are having a laugh at our expense.Then still trying to blame Labour,No wonder they are 14 points behind in the polls.
Eric for PM!
Lee, the 10billion quid went to the IMF and NOT the Eurozone, It is hoped that we shall earn some interest on that little pile!
stop giving aid to other countries get our own manufacturing industry back from other countries (they seem to make it a profitable venture) egt more apprentices in with not so many exam results and get rid of greedy bankers and investment people.
the meltdown begins !! bang goes our ten billion quid then !
Facts and figures are only importent to the eurocrats and politicians.The truth is it's had it and who cares about Greece anyway.Do they care about the rest of us,only when they're in trouble!
Has anyone bought anything made in Greece?
Do Greece make anything?
The Greeks did have a strong shipbuilding industry until recent years. It outlasted ours.
Can I just remind the ignorant that the 10b was a loan to the IMF and not the ECB. This loan may never be drawn on and because it is a loan it will be repaid.
the Germans are doing a great job we are just jealous!
Got it in one Joelle>
Hollande and Merkel collaborating will be about as useless as Merkel and Sarkozy - what good did all of their meetings do?