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Geithner Presses EU to Clarify Future of Eurozone

Wednesday, 13 Jun 2012 06:48 PM

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday kept the pressure on European leaders to lay out their plans for the future of the eurozone sooner rather than later to keep the debt crisis from escalating.

Speaking ahead of next week's meeting of the Group of 20 nations, Geithner said other European countries had to move closer to Germany, which has shown a willingness to consider a financial union.

"It's unfair to look at Germany as the sole source of the problem now," Geithner said at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. "Germany is saying make monetary union work. We are prepared to be behind this broader endeavor, you need to be in support of reforms," he said.

European leaders are meeting June 28-29 to negotiate a new set of reforms that is supposed to map out the future of the eurozone.

"They have big incentive to add as much clarity as early as they can," Geithner said, adding that the world was looking for Germany and other European countries to lay out the contours of a banking union, its growth strategy and how the region will use its bailout funds to protect vulnerable countries.

A senior Obama administration official said European leaders were trying to build consensus before their summit and might preview some of their plans at meeting of leaders from the Group of 20 nations in Mexico on Monday and Tuesday.

However, the official, who requested anonymity, said European leaders were unlikely to announce significant progress on measures to address their crisis at that meeting.

The G-20 meeting starts a day after Greek elections on Sunday that could determine whether the country stays in the 17-nation common currency eurozone.

Geithner said that European leaders have decided it was in their interest to hold the eurozone together. The last published opinion polls showed the conservative New Democracy party, which backs the 130-billion-euro ($160 billion) bailout that is keeping Greece afloat, running neck-and-neck with the leftist SYRIZA party, which wants to cancel the rescue deal.

The U.S. official said he did not expect a quick resolution to Greece's membership in the eurozone after its election on Sunday.

Greeks have been pulling cash out of banks and stocking up on food ahead of the vote, which many citizens fear will result in the country being forced out of the euro.

The U.S. official said whoever wins will have to form a coalition government and negotiate with European counterparts, so the vote would not provide a definitive signal on what happens next. The process of figuring out how to move forward would take a lot of time no matter who wins, he said.

Global financial markets have been on edge for weeks, worried that elections in Greece could spark a more virulent phase of Europe's debt crisis.

The official said that everyone is and should be worried about the risk of bank runs and financial contagion.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Wednesday, 13 Jun 2012 06:48 PM
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