Euro Crisis Report: Berlin Wants Ailing Nations To Speed up Reforms

Tough crisis managers: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Zoom
AP

Tough crisis managers: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

The European Commission wants to give countries like France and Spain more time to reduce their debts, but the German government wants them to speed up. A report written by Chancellery staff and seen by SPIEGEL says reforms are lagging and lists the shortcomings of Southern European countries.

The German government wants ailing euro zone nations to step up their reforms and make greater savings to overcome their economic crisis.

A government progress report on the European Union growth pact concludes that Italy, Spain, Greece and France need to take more action. The pact was agreed by the EU last year on the insistence of French President François Hollande and the leaders of Southern European nations to help stimulate flagging growth in austerity-hit countries.

The report, seen by SPIEGEL, says Italy has "further room for liberalizing its labor market." In Greece and Spain, it adds, further "reforms to overcome the rigidities of the labor market are indispensable."

France, the German officials note, has focused primarily on raising its revenues in order to consolidate its state finances. But it must also cut spending because its government spending-to-GDP ratio is at a record high, the report says.

What praise there is sounds forced. The report says there has been a "general political mobilization towards structural reforms and competitiveness" but the authors appear to have struggled to find many positive examples. It mentions France's measures to lift restrictions for self-employed people like veteranarians. It also praised an increase in shop opening hours in Italy.

The government acknowledges that reforms take time to take effect. But it wants progress to speed up.

SPIEGEL

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