Merkel Says 2012 a Year of ‘Great Progress’ in Tackling Crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this year has been marked by “great progress” toward solving Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.

“At the end of the year 2012 I want to say that we have achieved a lot,” Merkel told reporters in Brussels today before a meeting of European Union leaders. “It was a very laborious year, but it was also a year in which we made great progress,” she said, citing the establishment of the euro area’s permanent financial backstop and a pact on budgetary discipline.

The chancellor said the two-day meeting of heads of state and government will focus on ways to strengthen economic coordination in Europe, with leaders also aiming to agree on a timetable for their work in coming months.

Finance ministers earlier today reached an agreement on making the European Central bank the chief supervisor for euro-area banks, a move that paves the way for direct recapitalization of banks by the the European Stability Mechanism. Merkel said that’s “a great step toward more reliability and confidence in the euro zone.”