BUSINESS

Sources say Germany's Merkel told lawmakers Europe won't have full shared debt liability

06/26/2012 01:48 EDT | Updated 08/26/2012 05:12 EDT
BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday told a caucus meeting that there won't be a full shared debt liability in Europe "as long as I live," according to a lawmaker from Merkel's governing coalition.

Merkel's comments came as a sharp rebuke of jointly guaranteed debt for the eurozone, so-called eurobonds, which some see as a necessary step in fighting off the 17 nation currency zone's debt crisis.

Merkel briefed lawmakers from her junior coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats, ahead of this week's EU summit. A participant confirmed Merkel's remarks to The Associated Press but declined to be named because of the meeting's confidential nature.

Another official from the Free Democrats' told the AP that the caucus "reacted with applause to hearing that the chancellor does not want a joint debt liability."

Previously, Merkel had ruled out eurobonds as a quick fix solution to the debt crisis, but always maintained that they were a long-term policy option as one of the final steps of the bloc's integration. Saying that it won't happen in her lifetime, however, appears to imply that Merkel, aged 57, thinks that eurobonds won't become a reality for decades.

The lawmaker — whose party has been skeptical on bailing out ailing southern European nations — said Merkel's comments were greeted by one participant shouting: "We wish you a long life!"

A German duty government spokeswoman declined to comment on Merkel's reported remarks, noting that she was at the caucus meeting in her capacity as party leader and lawmaker, not as the Chancellor.

Despite her strong words, Merkel has during the course of the European crisis accepted measures she had previously ruled out. She had opposed having a permanent rescue fund for Europe, for example, before then accepting it.

Jochen Blind, a spokesman for Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats, said he could not comment because he was not present during the meeting.

Merkel is set to address Parliament in Berlin Wednesday, a day before the summit of EU leaders in Brussels is set to debate new strategies to tackle the bloc's debt crisis.

Her comments Tuesday also coincided with the publication of a roadmap for a closer European integration by four of the bloc's top officials — Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi — who also called for the introduction of eurobonds.