German minister warns coalition partners against euro populism

BERLIN Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:42pm EDT

German Economy Minister and vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler and State Minister at the Foreign Ministry, Cornelia Pieper, take their seats before a cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, August 1, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

German Economy Minister and vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler and State Minister at the Foreign Ministry, Cornelia Pieper, take their seats before a cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, August 1, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Peter

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Economy Minister Philipp Roesler has warned against using populism in the debate over the euro zone crisis and stressed the commitment of his party, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), to closer European integration.

"Euro populism is not a road that the Free Democrats and I go down," he told Spiegel's online edition on Tuesday.

"You can only keep Europe and its strong currency intact if you have a clear framework of rules," Roesler, also Germany's vice chancellor, was quoted as saying.

He said the Christian Social Union (CSU), which along with the FDP is in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, needed to either make party members like Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Soeder, who has called for a Greek exit, moderate their views or isolate them.

Roesler said Germany could not afford to let Soeder and CSU General Secretary Alexander Dobrindt, who last month criticized Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker and said it was impertinent to portray Germany as part of the problem.

Last month Dobrindt also urged Greece to start paying half of its pensions and state salaries in drachmas as part of a gradual exit.

"Despite all of the reform efforts, we still have problems in some European states and we need to approach them with sound judgment. It is completely inappropriate to adopt a shrill tone in such situations," he said.

Roesler, who caused a stir last month by telling a German broadcaster that a Greek euro zone exit was no longer a taboo for experts and had lost "its fear factor", said he was committed to Europe.

"I have always been strongly pro-European and that's my standard. My party and I will not agree to digress from the course of European integration," Roesler said, adding that he was in favor of giving up more national sovereignty.

"First we need a roadmap for a Europe of values, which are set in stone, perhaps in an economic constitution to start with and then later in a European constitution. We can't rush that."

Roesler said Greece would not get a third aid package if it did not implement reforms, adding that the Greek government knew this and that he hoped it was acting on this knowledge.

"We don't want the Greek government to be insolvent but we could deal with the consequences if necessary," he said.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; editing by Ron Askew)

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