Split euro zone in two,
says Germany's far-right leader
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[January 10, 2017]
By Hans-Edzard Busemann
(Reuters) - The euro zone should be split into two with a strong cluster
around Germany and a weak cluster including France, the co-leader of
Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party Joerg Meuthen
"The euro is a seed of discord in Europe that has different currency
cultures and different competitiveness levels," Meuthen told Reuters,
eight months before the federal election.
The AfD was set up in 2013 at the height of the euro zone debt crisis on
an anti-euro platform but since ousting its founders in 2015, the party
has climbed to about 15 percent in opinion polls by focusing on an
Meuthen, widely seen as a moderate in the AfD which represents a wide
range of views, said the German economy could suffer in the wake of such
a euro zone split but only for a year or two.
"The euro is too strong for southern European countries while for
Germany and several others it's too weak," he said in a telephone
"It's conceivable that the weaker countries leave," he said, mentioning
Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. He said Greece is so weak that no
country wants to share a currency with it.
Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Finland should remain in the core
euro group, he said, even though a stronger currency would hurt exports
from those countries.
"That could cause an economic slump (in Germany)," he said. "It's
impossible to say how deep. But in my view the economic slump would be
over in about a year or two."
Meuthen said the euro exit should not be linked to a fixed exchange rate
system. "The currencies need to be able to breathe," he said.
He distanced himself from a proposal by France's far-right leader Marine
Le Pen who has said France should leave the euro but shift to a new
national currency accompanied by a framework similar to the pre-euro era
of the ECU.
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Anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) leader Joerg
Meuthen addresses a news conference at the Bundespressekonferenz in
Berlin, Germany, September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Le Pen's deputy in the National Front, Florian Philippot, said it was
normal for different parties to develop their own political vision.
"Ours is not that one (the AfD’s), what we want is to regain our
monetary sovereignty via a national currency adapted to our needs, and
the concerted dissolution of the euro zone," Philippot told Reuters.
Anti-establishment parties in some other European countries, such as
Italy's 5-Star Movement, have also indicated a desire to leave the euro.
Meuthen's comments riled some of his party colleagues. Alice Weidel, an
AfD board member, said the euro had a faulty design.
"There is no benefit in dividing the euro zone into north and south
because that does not solve the fundamental problem. The only solution
is for Germany to leave the euro zone," she said, adding this was part
of the AfD's basic programme.
Despite its popular appeal, no other German party is willing to form a
coalition with the AfD.
(Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander in Paris; Writing by Erik
Kirschbaum and Madeline Chambers; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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