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Debt crisis will strengthen Europe, French PM says

Debt crisis will strengthen Europe, French PM says

France's prime minister said Friday that Europe is united in tackling the Greek debt crisis and will emerge stronger than ever, as he sought to calm the fears of an important Asian trading partner.
Speaking to business leaders in Tokyo, Francois Fillon reassured investors that the European Union and its common currency are not in peril, as critics have charged.
"European decision-making processes are often complex," Fillon said while on a two-day visit to Japan. "And yet those who have, over the last 60 years, successively predicted the failure of the European project, the unfeasibility of the euro and its implosion a few months ago, have proved wrong time and again."
Greece's woes represent a "classic sovereign debt crisis" that does not reflect any inherent weakness in the euro, he said. Rather, the crisis stemmed from poor public financial management and followed an unprecedented global economic crisis.
He denied that members of the European Union reacted too slowly or were divided in their response. It took just several weeks for the EU to adopt a massive aid package for Greece and a 750-billion euro financial guarantee plan for the euro zone, he noted.
"This is not a time for Japan to turn away from the euro," he said.
While Japan ranked as France's largest Asian investor in 2009, Fillon urged greater economic ties between the two countries, which share common areas of expertise in nuclear and solar energy and the environment. Japan and France are among the world's biggest producers of nuclear power.
France is open to the idea of an economic agreement between Japan and the European Union once access issues are addressed. European exports face too many non-tariff barriers in Japan, Fillon said, adding he wants to see "tangible and speedy progress" from Japan.
With 500 million consumers, Europe accounts for 30 percent of the world's gross domestic product.
The continent "must ... allay fears with its strategy and its ambitions, sustainably strengthening its position as a hub of budgetary stability and growth," Fillon said.
France is committed to Europe's efforts to strengthen public finances, he said. It will aim to reduce public deficits to 6 percent of GDP by 2011 and then to 3 percent by 2013. The country is also tackling pension and tax reforms.
Regional initiatives, however, are not enough in a globalized world, Fillon said.
When France takes over the presidency of the Group of Eight and Group of 20 meetings next year, it plans to champion several key issues: stronger financial and market regulations, discussions about the international monetary system, and measures to limit volatility in commodity markets.
Fillon said he supports a tax on "high-risk financial activities" and greater global consideration of social and environmental issues.


Updated : 2021-04-12 12:46 GMT+08:00