Officials warn of further slump in eurozone

Updated: 2011-08-31 07:55

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

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BRUSSELS - The high degree of uncertainty in the global financial market may result in a further economic downturn in the eurozone, top EU officials warned.

But they also said the factors that can contribute to modest economic growth still exist.

Shortly after its long summer recess, the European Parliament held a special meeting on the economic situation late on Monday after EU banks and bond markets took a beating throughout most of August.

Parliament members of the economics committee discussed the current situation with European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker, Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn and Jacek Rostowski, president of EU's Economic and Financial Affairs Council.

Trichet forecast that the eurozone economy will grow at a modest pace.

But he added: "Not least because of the recently re-emerged tensions in financial markets, uncertainty remains particularly high."

Trichet said his warning was mainly related to ongoing fiscal and economic adjustments in a number of eurozone countries and most other advanced economies, as well as the overall outlook for the global economy.

"In particular, the United States has been facing both fiscal and structural headwinds amidst weakened economic prospects," he added.

The statistics indicated that the eurozone's growth pace had slowed this year. After an increase of 0.8 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter of 2011, real economic growth decelerated to 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter.

He said that the governments of member states should strictly respect the principle of budgetary discipline and effective mutual surveillance.

"It is of utmost importance that these commitments are now implemented strictly and timely. They need to be backed by concrete measures," Trichet urged.

Parliament members from across the political spectrum were nearly unanimous in supporting the ECB for stepping into the role which national politicians proved incapable of filling by taking action which helped calm the summer crisis.

"It is thanks to the ECB that we have not fallen victim to the big problems which have hit us recently," said German member Werner Langen.

Sylvie Goulard from France however raised the point that it would not be possible for the ECB to constantly make up for the weaknesses of national politicians.

Elisa Ferreira from Portugal echoed this: "We need to think wider and deeper. We need a vision."

Others pointed to the general lack of effective leadership in EU capitals. For his part, Trichet reiterated that "the ECB must always be cautious not to overstep its role".

Commissioner Rehn said the best way to foster growth at the current juncture is to vigorously implement structural reforms, including the single market, which will enhance medium to long-run growth potential.

China Daily


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