Chancellor Angela Merkel will fly to Poland to watch Germany face Greece in the European Championship quarterfinals this week, throwing sports onto the agenda as euro leaders struggle to tackle the debt crisis.
A four-way summit in Rome on June 22 with Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and Spain’s premier, Mariano Rajoy, was rescheduled for the early afternoon. That allows Merkel to travel to the Baltic port city of Gdansk to watch the game in the evening and, possibly, to meet with Greece’s incoming leader, Antonis Samaras.
Samaras will be sworn in today as prime minister of Greece’s new governing coalition after pro-bailout parties scored an election victory at the beginning of the week. Chrisostomos Bikatzik, a spokesman for Samaras’s New Democracy party, declined to comment on whether he’ll attend the game.
“The chancellor is preparing for an exciting soccer match -- it’s a day for sports,” German government spokesman Georg Streiter told reporters today in Berlin. “Should Mr. Samaras be there, he will also dedicate himself to the sport, I presume.”
If Merkel and the new Greek leader encounter each other at the soccer match, it would add to a series of high-level and high-stakes meetings by the end of the month as European leaders try to wrest the currency bloc out of its 2 1/2-year crisis and return confidence to the markets.
Merkel returns today to Berlin after meeting leaders of the Group of 20 biggest economies in Los Cabos, Mexico, where euro members came under pressure to pull together and spare the world economy the consequences of a worsening debt crisis.
After meeting today with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Merkel will hold negotiations tomorrow with opposition leaders on passing the European fiscal pact and the permanent euro bailout fund through German parliament by the end of the month.
The next day, she’ll leave for Rome to speak with leaders about measures to take at the June 28-29 European Union summit, which could include purchasing bonds of indebted states through the bloc’s bailout funds.
The Championship has already loomed over one crisis scene this month. After Spain announced it would seek 100 billion euros ($127 billion) in bailout aid for its banks, Prime Minister Rajoy flew to Gdansk to watch Spain face off against Italy, “now that the situation is resolved.”
Spain tied Italy 1-1 in that game, while Spanish 10-year-yields began to soar, from below 6.2 percent June 11 to more than 7 percent earlier this week.