No German 'hegemony' in Europe, Merkel says
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said there is no German hegemony in Europe, but insisted that euro countries cede more sovereignty to overcome the crisis.
"To me this hegemonial [concept] is completely foreign," she said on Monday (22 April) during a debate with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk hosted by the Deutsche Bank in Berlin.
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Merkel admitted that Germany has "sometimes a complicated role" in the EU and said that as a large, "but not the richest country," it seeks to involve other states - like Poland - in the decision making process.
Having witnessed the collapse of East Germany under the Soviet Union, which ran the country's economy into the ground, Merkel said she did not want the EU to fall apart too.
But the she rejected criticism voiced particularly in southern countries which suffer most from what is perceived to be a German-led austerity drive.
"Growth doesn't come only from cuts, I am certainly not all about cuts. Growth also comes from structural reforms," she said, adding that Germany emerged from its own economic crisis by reforming its labour market and pension systems.
She also complained about governments being willing to reform only when they are "on the edge of the abyss" and said they have to be willing to cede more powers to Brussels.
"We need to be ready to accept that Europe has the last say in certain areas. Otherwise we won't be able to continue to build Europe," she noted.
For his part, Tusk praised Merkel's leadership, even though he said it would be "dangerous" if Germany was perceived as imposing its will on economically weaker countries.
Tusk, who turned 56 the same day, came to Berlin together with his wife on Sunday evening and had a private dinner with Merkel and her husband.
Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert on Monday said the two discussed "at length" her Polish roots, as her grandfather was Polish and fought in the Polish army against the Germans in the World War I.