Merkel urges joint effort on econ crisis before EU summit

BERLIN, Feb 28 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged EU states to work together to tackle the economic downturn in an interview with a newspaper a day before a Brussels summit where leaders will discuss how to fight the financial crisis. “We are working intensively on new rules for the international financial markets,” Merkel told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper on Saturday.

“The economic crisis arose from a massive financial crisis and the EU must ensure that cannot happen again and we should do this quickly while there is a wide readiness to act,” she said.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is facing its worst recession since World War Two and Merkel has long called for greater transparency on the financial markets and tighter supervision.

“We need a global financial architecture that is transparent. The origin and value of certificates, derivatives and other securities have to be traceable.”

EU leaders will on Sunday try to overcome differences on how to tackle the effects of the financial crisis that has placed the euro under unprecedented strain although no major decisions are expected.

The meeting is the latest in a series of European gatherings before an April G20 summit in London.

The crisis has highlighted fundamental differences between economies in the single currency zone with some countries, such as Ireland, seeing their deficits balloon and there has been much talk about how euro zone states can maintain solidarity.

Central and eastern European countries also want to push the case for more help for their region.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told German magazine Der Spiegel he was worried about the possibility of growing divisions within the 27-member bloc.

“We see the biggest danger in crumbling solidarity within the European Union, in the growth of national egoism and protectionism,” Tusk told Der Spiegel.

“We sometimes hear -- even from Germany -- calls for help for the euro zone countries. That means Europe will split into two parts -- one group of countries that have the euro and the other group which operates with national currencies.”

Tusk said he was doing everything he could to enable Poland to fulfil the criteria for joining the euro zone. He has in the past called for more flexible rules on adopting the euro.

“There must be just one strategy for all Europeans.”

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Ruth Pitchford