Germany's chancellor and France's president are starting off the new year as they ended the old one -- meeting in an effort to solve Europe's financial woes.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet next Monday.
The meeting of the French and German leaders is the first of several European meetings this month as leaders rush to conclude negotiations on closer economic integration and more robust surveillance of euro zone budgets by the end of March.
Two years since the onset of Greece's debt woes, the crisis has mushroomed into a full-blown sovereign debt crisis in the entire euro zone, threatening the global economy. European leaders have failed to come up with a lasting solution to the crisis. Now, as European leaders return to their offices after the holidays, they face a rapidly worsening economy. The most recent data suggest that the euro zone economy contracted in the final quarter of 2011 as broad swathes of Europe appear to be descending into recession, further complicating efforts to resolve the crisis.
Reinforcing the grim economic outlook, a survey of purchasing managers published on Monday showed that manufacturing activity in the euro zone declined for the fifth straight month in December. A survey of Eastern European countries--major importers of capital goods from western European countries such as Germany and France--showed a decline in the largest manufacturing sectors.Reuters adds that a larger meeting of European economic ministers will take place later in the month.
Finance ministers from the EU’s 27 members will meet on Jan. 23 before their leaders hold a summit a week later. They will be under intense pressure to find a definitive solution to the crisis which threatens the very survival of the single currency, 10 years after it came into circulation.Amid the serious talk of Europe's problems comes a bit of levity.