Merkel seen as big loser in euro zone showdown

Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:52am EDT
 
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By Erik Kirschbaum and John Irish

BERLIN/PARIS (Reuters) - Angela Merkel was portrayed across Europe as the big loser of a euro zone showdown in Brussels after the German chancellor was forced to accept the crisis-fighting measures championed by countries struggling with their debts.

Newspapers in Spain, Italy and France on Saturday toasted the triumph of their leaders - Mario Monti, Mariano Rajoy and Francois Hollande - in pushing Merkel into a U-turn that would long have been unthinkable.

Even German newspapers said Merkel had been made to accept demands for the euro zone rescue fund to be able to inject aid directly into stricken banks from next year and intervene on bond markets to support troubled member states.

"There's no doubt about it - the chancellor was blindsided at the euro summit," wrote influential columnist Nikolaus Blome of Bild, a daily with 12 million readers.

The summit ended on Friday with agreement on new steps to try to prevent a catastrophic breakup of the single currency.

Popular at home for insisting on austerity measures and tough conditions for those indebted euro zone states getting help, Merkel was quick to put a positive spin on the summit, telling reporters: "We had an interest in finding solutions."

There was no sign that the summit had damaged her reputation on Friday as both houses of parliament voted to back the euro zone's permanent bailout scheme. And Merkel does not face any particular political challenge at the moment.

But the concessions of "Frau Nein" were far bigger than earlier compromises in the name of saving the euro.   Continued...

 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on before delivering a government policy statement in the German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, June 29, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Peter