Merkel Takes on Anti-Bailout Group in Defense of Euro Area

German Chancellor Angela Merkel took aim at critics of the euro and her debt-crisis policies, rejecting the suggestion that bailouts of countries in the single currency area breached European treaties.

“I do make an effort to observe the treaties, and that’s probably what you thought anyway,” Merkel told a conference of family entrepreneurs in Berlin today after the group’s head criticized her backing for financial rescues of euro countries.

Germany’s constitutional court ruled in the 1990s that Europe’s biggest economy can take part in the joint currency “as long as it’s stable,” Merkel said in a speech. “That means that when this stability is in question, it’s incumbent upon us to do something for the stability of the euro area.”

Merkel’s rebuff also sends a signal to the anti-euro Alternative for Germany, the first party founded on an explicit platform of getting Germany out of the euro area. While the party said it has attracted more than 10,000 members in seven weeks, three polls this week put voter support at 2-3 percent, short of the 5 percent needed to enter parliament in Sept. 22 federal elections.

Merkel bristled after Lutz Goebel, head of the family business group Die Familienunternehmer, questioned the legality of her support for the rescues of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus. “No bailout means no bailout,” he said in his introductory speech.

“If you say that what happened in the last few years isn’t within the treaties, you’re saying nothing less than that our Federal Constitutional Court hasn’t interpreted them correctly,” Merkel said. “I’d be careful about that.”

European Union leaders were in uncharted territory after Greece touched off the debt crisis, she said. “None of us expected to find ourselves in such a situation. I might add that the markets also didn’t predict it.”

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