EU Observer (Link) - Leigh Phillips (January 9, 2009)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy have warned the US not to block attempts to build an international financial regulator, calling for a new economic body similar to the UN's Security Council. "I've always in my political life been a supporter of a close alliance with the United States but let's be clear: in the 21st century, a single nation can no longer say what we must do or what we must think," said Mr Sarkozy at an international symposium in Paris on Thursday (8 January), shortly before US president-elect Barack Obama enters office.
The French leader had originally called the Paris meeting - "New World, New Capitalism" - a global "summit," but limited his ambitions after few international leaders deigned to attend. "We'll take our decisions on 2 April in London," he went on, referring to an upcoming meeting of the G20. "Perhaps the United States will join us in this change."
Ms Merkel, also in attendance at the conference, echoed the French president's warning to Washington. "No country can act alone in this day and age, not even the United States, however powerful they may be," she said, Deutsche Welle reports. She said that hopes that out of the economic crisis, governments can construct a new architecture for managing global capitalism. "Our response [to the economic crisis] must be more than a few rules," she said. "The crisis is an opportunity to create an international architecture of institutions."
The chancellor said the world needs an "economic council" in the United Nations as well as the existing body that deals with security matters. "It is possible that alongside the [UN] Security Council, we could also have an economic council," she said, adding that alongside the UN Charter, an economic sustainability charter "for a long-term reasonable economy" should be drafted establishing rules for global financial governance. "Our response must be more than a few rules," she added. "The crisis is an opportunity to create an international architecture of institutions."
The centre-right German leader also warned businesses there was no returning to laissez-faire approaches by governments once the crisis has passed. "Once everything is going better, the financial markets will tell us: 'you politicians don't need to get involved because everything is working again'," she said, according to the Guardian. "I will stay firm, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past."
Mr Sarkozy warned that capitalism could collapse if it is not restructured. "Either we re-found capitalism or we destroy it," he said. "Purely financial capitalism has perverted the logic of capitalism ...it is amoral. It is a system where the logic of the market excuses everything."
Former UK prime minister Tony Blair, a co-sponsor of the symposium, echoed the European leaders: "what is unavoidable in the longer term is a recasting of the system of international supervision." "We have mid-20th-century international institutions governing a 21st century world," he added. "The reform of the IMF, the World Bank, the financial regulatory system [is] long overdue."
The meeting came as Germany announced it is to inject a further €10 billion into Commerzbank, in return for a 25 percent stake in the bank, while France offered another €10.5 billion for its six main banks.