Merkel Says Criticism of Weak Euro Nations Must be Eased

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Greece’s economic overhaul is taking hold and Germans should restrain finger-pointing at euro-area countries struggling to beat the debt crisis.

“You can say all kinds of things about Greece, but there’s also a lot of movement there,” Merkel said in a speech to Germany’s BDA employer federation in Berlin today. While Greece might be able to move more quickly, “something has changed in the whole way of thinking” in the nation that set off the debt crisis ravaging the 17-country currency union since late 2009.

Merkel’s comments are the latest sign that Germany, the biggest country contributor to euro-area bailouts, is looking for ways to accommodate Greece and keep it in the euro as European Union leaders prepare to discuss the latest crisis measures at an Oct. 18-19 summit in Brussels. German lawmakers said separately today that Europe’s biggest economy is open to Spain seeking a precautionary credit, in an easing of Germany’s public stance.

“We recently went to Spain with a large business delegation, and we witnessed with how much commitment, how much elan Spain is working on improving its competitiveness situation,” Merkel said.

Summit Pitch

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will pitch at the summit for an additional two years to meet budget-deficit targets, emboldened by German backing and a rally in bonds. Setting up EU-wide banking supervision is on the agenda at the summit, where Merkel said efforts to narrow competitiveness gaps between euro countries will also “play a role.”

“On the other hand, we should sometimes think about how we struggle with some reforms, and that therefore there’s no reason to constantly point fingers at others who are a bit slower,” Merkel said. Ending the debt crisis is “a good investment” for Germany and Europe, she said.

In a nod to countries such as the U.K., Merkel said she doesn’t aim to exclude non-euro countries in seeking to “make progress on economic-policy coordination” to stem the crisis. The aims and aspirations of EU integration include all members of the trade bloc joining the single currency, she said.

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