Merkel Calls for International Efforts to Spur Growth

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a more unified drive to spur economic growth in the euro zone on Tuesday, saying countries should link energy grids and trade expertise in labor law.

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Merkel has adamantly opposed economic stimulus programs meant to shore up the currency bloc, instead advocating fiscal discipline and stability as the key to ending the region’s debt crisis.

However, with recession looming, many experts have criticized Merkel’s approach as not doing enough to create jobs and boost economic activity.

In a speech following a briefing with Michael Sommer, head of the German Confederation of Trade Unions, Merkel acknowledged that, “Joblessness is still very high in parts of Europe,” and said that, to help growth, euro nations should step up their economic cooperation and swap experiences in labor legislation. Investments, especially in intelligent energy grids, and a linking of European energy markets, could also foster growth, she said.

Germany is ready to resume subsidies for temporary work programs if need be, said Merkel. Such programs helped Germany avoid a rapid rise in unemployment after the 2008 banking crisis.

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Many governments, including Germany, spent heavily on programs to prevent a financial meltdown and support the economy, leaving them with the heavy debt loads that gave rise to the current crisis.