Germany and France push change

Germany and France push change

The president of the European Commission appealed to EU leaders on Thursday to set aside their differences and unite to rescue the euro from a sovereign debt crisis that is menacing the world economy.

Jose Manuel Barroso was speaking hours before a potentially divisive crisis summit — the eighth this year — as Europe’s central bankers met in Frankfurt to consider emergency help for banks and the economy.

“The summit that we are going to starts tonight in Brussels is indeed a crucial one,” Barroso said on arrival at a meeting of European conservative party leaders in the French port city of Marseille, issuing a challenge reminiscent of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

“What I expect from all heads of governments is that they don’t come saying what they cannot do but what they will do for Europe. All the world is watching us and what the world expects from us is not more national problems but European solutions.”

France and Germany planned to use the Marseille meeting to lobby for their plan to amend the European Union treaty to toughen budget discipline, which they want to have ready by March. But several countries are skeptical.

The often contradictory views were illustrated by two comments that came within a few hours of one another. France’s Europe minister said the fate of the euro was at stake.

“What that means … is that the euro can explode and Europe come apart. That would be a catastrophe not only for Europe and France but for the world,” Jean Leonetti told Canal+ television.

The chairman of euro area finance ministers said the 17-nation currency was not at risk.