European leaders predict 2012 will be worse than 2011

Monday, January 2, 2012
By Paul Martin

Angela Merkel says new year will ‘undoubtedly’ be harder than the last as eurozone crisis hangover prompts more austerity

By Lizzy Davies
Guardian.co.uk

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has warned that the year ahead will “undoubtedly” be harder than 2011 in the starkest of a series of downbeat messages from European leaders dominated by fears over the economy.

Merkel said Europe was experiencing its “harshest test in decades” but would ultimately be made stronger by the crisis.

Urging greater European co-operation to salvage the Euro, Merkel said the German economy was performing well “even if the next year will undoubtedly be more difficult than this one”.

Her solemn new year greeting, broadcast on Saturday, set the tone for those of her European counterparts.

The Greek prime minister, Lucas Papademos, spelled out a continuation of harsh austerity measures, while the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano, warned that sacrifices would have to be made if the country was to avoid “financial collapse”.

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