BERLIN (Reuters) - G20 leaders are likely to meet before their next scheduled summit in February to try and restore market confidence battered by the euro zone debt crisis, Canada’s finance minister said on Saturday, while Germany’s Angela Merkel said it would take a decade to turn around the currency bloc.
“It looks like we’re going to have yet another meeting ... The consensus view (among the G20) is that we cannot wait that long (until February meeting in Mexico). We do need to restore market confidence,” Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said during a panel discussion in Berlin.
G20 leaders failed at a summit in Cannes this week to secure new money from potential investors such as China and Brazil for efforts to overcome the euro zone debt crisis, which continues to unnerve financial markets as political turmoil in Greece has jeopardised a new Greek bailout agreement and Italy’s high debt has become a focus of market attention.
German Chancellor Merkel said there was a lot of work to be done to solve the crisis and it could take a decade before the euro zone was in a better situation.
“(It will) certainly take a decade until we are in a better position again,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday. “We have a whole chunk of work ahead of us, I’ve got to say.”
In Greece, Prime Minister George Papandreou, who survived a confidence vote on Friday but is expected to step down, said negotiations to form a coalition government would start soon. He called for a broad-based government to secure a bailout from the euro zone, the main weapon in Europe’s battle against the spreading economic crisis.
While euro zone leaders have pressed China to put money in the currency bloc’s bailout fund, an influential adviser to China’s government said on Saturday that Europe should not count on Beijing.
“China certainly hopes the debt crisis could be resolved. If the crisis spreads, it could lead to a break-up of the euro zone and affect the global monetary system as the euro is the second-largest reserve currency,” Cheng Siwei, a former top Chinese lawmaker, told reporters in Beijing.
“But don’t pin high hopes on China. China cannot be a hero to the rescue,” he said. “China will lend a helping hand within its capacity but Europe must rely on itself.
Merkel said all of Europe had overspent for years but welcomed that all euro zone members had agreed to a debt brake like Germany’s.
“Almost all European countries have spent more over the years than they earned,” she said.
Writing by Susan Fenton