German finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Thursday noone was against growth in Europe but that budget consolidation efforts must continue, in response to suggestions from the European Commission that Europe should ease up on austerity.
“Noone is against growth, I say again and again the biggest problem in Europe is youth unemployment,” Schaeuble told German radio, adding that did not mean debt levels should increase.
“We need stability and sustainable growth,” he said when asked about comments by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso this week that austerity had reached its natural limits of popular support.
Schaeuble said European governments, including France, must continue with reforms to tackle deficits but that current treaties contained the flexibility needed to react to economic developments.
“France must follow a path of structural reform,” said Schaeuble, pinpointing high labor costs and administrative costs. “You have to tackle it step by step so it is credible,” he said, adding only then could you talk about flexibility.[Reuters]