"We are working hard for Europe"

View of the TV studio with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the left and the cameraman at the right

Chancellor Angela Merkel during the ARD summer interview

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

Traditionally, Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a summer interview before the summer recess. On Saturday evening, Tina Hassel and Rainald Becker asked the Chancellor about Europe’s ability to take effective action, about refugees and, following the Bundestag’s vote to back negotiations on a third assistance programme for Greece, about Greece’s way out of the debt crisis.

Swift negotiations needed

The outcome is what counts, said Angela Merkel. With a view to the eleven million people in Greece she said, "Swift negotiations are now needed to get the country back on its feet." "For our part we will be doing all we can to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion". But there will obviously be some hard negotiating, she added, "to ensure that what has been agreed in writing is in fact put into practice".

No classic debt haircut

It is not possible to cancel some of Greece’s debt, said Angela Merkel. A classic debt haircut is only possible outside the euro zone. However, the option of extending terms and reducing interest rates is part of the mandate. "And now we can talk again about options like this," stated Angela Merkel, but only "once the programme to be negotiated has been successfully reviewed".

"We are working hard for Europe"

The last few years have been hard for Europe, said Angela Merkel. But today the euro zone is more robust. Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Cyprus are seeing their economies return to growth. In spite of various different conflicts of interest, "we heads of state and government always manage to achieve a consensus," said Angela Merkel pointing to the sanctions on Russia. "We have really managed a good few things extremely well. And we are working hard for Europe." Individual nations would find it even harder to master the challenges posed by terrorism and the refugee crisis alone.

Better distributing refugees

"The burden of refugees must be better shared," said Angela Merkel. If no new solution can be achieved, it will be impossible to uphold the Schengen Agreement, which guarantees freedom of movement between signatory states.

In Germany, those who are entitled to stay (including refugees fleeing the fighting and violence of civil wars) must be given genuine prospects quickly. Asylum applications must also be processed more rapidly. And the federal, state and local government authorities must continue to cooperate very closely. Today it is "much much easier" for well trained and highly qualified individuals to stay in Germany, said Angela Merkel. There will always be difficulties at individual level in establishing residence rights.

Damage caused by spying outweighs any benefits

Commenting on the NSA’s spying on the Federal Chancellery and other federal ministries, Angela Merkel stated that she cannot condone these actions. If the allegations are founded, she said, the costs are totally disproportionate to any benefits. On the other hand she reiterated that Germany needs to cooperate with the intelligence services of other countries in the face of terrorism and other dangers.