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Euro monument, Brussels

Elder statesmen's pro-euro offensive

RobK(Photo: Rob Kievit)

Long-serving chairman Jean-Claude Juncker of the euro currency union has urged the euro countries to use "all available means" to guarantee the financial stability of the union. Speaking to the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily on Monday, Luxembourg Prime Minister Juncker said that the common currency countries are "determined to preserve the euro in its present form, so with all of the euro member countries. All that nonsense about a Greek exit is not helpful at all."

In Juncker's view the financial markets have failed to appreciate the efforts made by Spain and Italy to reform their economies. The euro chairman emphasised that whatever measures are taken, the independence of the European Central Bank will be safeguarded. "We'll decide in the coming days what those measures will be. There's no time to lose," Juncker said.

One of the proposed measures is allowing the ECB to buy Spanish and Italian government bonds.

Tony Blair
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair joined the chorus of pro-euro champions on Monday. Writing in Bild daily, he said that there is no good alternative for saving the euro. "The present crisis is of existential significance for Europe," Blair wrote. He recognised that Germany was being faced with a dilemma, but made a passionate appeal for Berlin to take its responsibility. "Giving up the euro would be catastrophic, particularly in economic terms, not just politically. Germany should finance safety nets, allow for some inflation, and guarantee debts for those countries who have not yet implemented the necessary reforms."

Barack Obama
In a separate development, the US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is travelling to the Northsea island of Sylt for a meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Later, Geithner will travel on to Frankfurt where he will have talks with ECB President Mario Draghi. A weak euro, or possibly the collapse of the currency, are of great concern to Washington, because the economic fallout will also be felt in the United States. A worsening of the US economy will certainly have a negative impact on Barack Obama's chances in the presidential elections of November.

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