EU to weather crisis: commissioner

Kyodo

European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said Friday in Tokyo that European countries will survive the ongoing sovereign debt crisis by taking steps that include closer economic coordination among eurozone countries and enhancing financial regulations.

“Some people say that it is the end of Europe, or the euro. But, as a European politician, I think Europe will get a better structure and become stronger through this crisis,” Barnier said in a speech delivered in Tokyo through a translator.

He also stressed the importance of addressing the “structural weakness” of the euro system, which has been exposed by the debt crisis, touching on the tendency of public debt to rise and the lack of economic policy coordination among euro states.

“We must resolve the inconsistency, that the 17 countries sharing the euro have 17 kinds of economic policies and tax systems,” he said, but added it may take “some time” until such a structural reform begins to take effect.

Turning to issues pertaining to Japan and the European Union, in which efforts to launch negotiations for a bilateral free-trade accord are taking place, Barnier said he hopes such an accord will help open up government procurement of markets in both countries.