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Merkel and Sarkozy want to change EU treaties

By Rick Noack, CNN
updated 5:23 AM EST, Fri November 25, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Merkel, Sarkozy will push changes in the EU's treaties
  • They did not provide detail on the changes
  • Merkel says in the past countries that violated the law were not punished

Berlin (CNN) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed on Thursday to put forward an overall plan to change the EU's treaties.

"This is going to restore lost credibility", Nicolas Sarkozy said.

Merkel and Sarkozy want to prevent the stability and growth pact's further abuse, they said. "Countries that ignored the law were not punished in the past -- Germany amongst them. Now we are paying the price," said Merkel.

"We need to correct the fundamental floors in the construction of the eurozone. The situation is not easy -- trust has been lost. And that is the reason why we, Germany and France, want to work on treaty change for the eurozone."

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The politicians did not specify the treaty changes, but said they will inform the public of the details ahead of the next EU summit on December 9.

Merkel said she wanted the European Central Bank (ECB) to remain independent. "We have expressed our confidence in the ECB," she said.

New Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti was also invited to the meeting. The Italian economy is the third largest in the eurozone; a default on Italian debt would likely exact a heavy toll on Europe. Italy has been struggling to tackle its debt crisis for years.

While Merkel and Sarkozy welcomed Italy's willingness to face tough reforms, the use of eurobonds was disputed. Mario Monti said: "Eurobonds might contribute to stability" within a stricter fiscal framework. But Angela Merkel rejected their use.

"I have not changed my opinion", she said. On Wednesday she made clear her opposition to eurobonds in a speech to the German Bundestag or parliament. The same day, the European Commission unveiled a plan detailing options for so-called eurobonds.

Some see eurobonds as a way out of the debt crisis, because they would effectively pool the debt of the 17 eurozone countries. But stronger eurozone countries are concerned about becoming liable for the debt service payments of entire regions without having a say in their future fiscal actions and policies.

Italian Premier Monti said the leaders of Germany and France had accepted his invitation to meet in the coming days in Rome to continue talks about Italy's economic future.

According to Sarkozy, he and Merkel are in constant contact with each other to manage the euro crisis anyway.

"We call each other nearly each day to discuss our different opinions", Sarkozy said.

"Germany has its own culture; France also has its own culture. We both try to understand each other. Or do you believe we would have to talk on a daily basis if we would both agree on everything?" he asked journalists.

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