Merkel warns on euro crisis complacency, targets banks

HANOVER, Germany Tue Dec 4, 2012 11:13am EST

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HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Tuesday against complacency in combating the euro zone debt crisis and expressed concern about a lack of progress in reining in banker excesses and regulating financial markets.

Speaking to over 900 delegates from her Christian Democrats (CDU) at a party congress in Hanover, Merkel said there was still much work to do to meet a goal, set by major powers after the global financial crisis of 2008/9, to regulate all financial products, centers and actors.

"I have to say that I am truly worried about my goal to develop a common approach towards the financial sector, especially the regulation of banks, shadow banking and financial markets," Merkel said.

She urged better supervision of banks and hedge funds, vowing to press the issue within the Group of 20 (G20), where countries like the United States and Britain have been reluctant to follow her lead out of fear they would hurt their own financial centers.

On Europe too, Merkel said more steps were needed. At the CDU's previous congress in the eastern city of Leipzig a year ago, the euro crisis was at a peak and delegates spoke of little else.

But pressure on stricken euro countries like Spain has eased since European Central Bank President Mario Draghi unveiled a new bond-buying program in September designed to support vulnerable states.

Greece also dodged a bullet last week when European finance ministers agreed to ease the terms of its aid package, although before funds can flow to Athens, it is crucial that a plan for it to buy back its own debt from private bond holders succeeds.

"I could take it easy and say the worst is over. But I am telling you today that we must be cautious," Merkel said.

"This crisis can't be solved overnight because it didn't happen overnight. It will be a long, tough process," she added.

"Even if we've accomplished more in Europe in the last three years than we have in many others, we cannot ease off now. I don't just want the euro to survive. I want the euro to come out of the crisis stronger than it went in."

(Additional reporting by Stephen Brown)

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