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Eurogroup chief says Eurozone is much 'calmer' now than last year

Jean-Claude Juncker was comparing the Eurozone now to a year ago in Brussels.

Image: (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

THE EUROZONE CRISIS has eased markedly from one year ago when some doubted its very survival, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said in Germany today.

When EU leaders gather next week in Brussels they will be able to look back at a recent “calmer period”, the former Eurogroup chief told reporters ahead of a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He said that 12 months ago “no doubt the central issue would have been whether Greece gets kicked out of the eurozone, and there would have been questions about the substance and survival of the eurozone”.

“All these fears and all these headlines” have vanished, he said.

“The situation is less dramatic than even one year ago,” added Juncker, who earlier took part in a German television forum on the future of Europe, along with Merkel and other politicians.

However, Juncker cautioned that “we are on the right path but not yet over the hill” and need to push on with reforms, including in the banking sector. He said Europe needs to continue with fiscal consolidation and that “of course we need more growth and more employment”.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso similarly told the television forum that “the existential crisis of the euro is behind us”.

He said that, despite “real problems” such as unemployment, “overall the doubts about the stability of the euro are not there anymore”.

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Merkel said a key issue driving forward would be bank reform.

“The more we look at the topic of banks, the clearer it is that the credibility of the European banking sector is a central question, including for the revival of the economy,” she said.

- © AFP, 2013

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