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Merkel, Sarkozy call for financial transparency

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the European Union on Monday to take measures to increase transparency in financial markets.

The two leaders made the call after a meeting in Meseberg, outskirts of Berlin. This is their third meeting after Sarkozy took the French Presidency. The two leaders called on the 27-state bloc to agree on relevant measures by March 2008. France will take the EU presidency during the second half of 2008.

“The European Union has to make up its mind how it wants to attend to its interests in the interplay of international financial markets,” Merkel told a joint press conference after the meeting. Their call reflects a growing consensus among the European businesses that the EU should intensify its push for exchange rates to reflect economic strengths and ensure that financial market players, including hedge funds and rating companies, disclose more information. Germany and France “owe it to the people” in the two countries to seek “fair conditions” in the transparency of international financial instruments, she said. The efforts “must become a joint European matter,” Merkel said.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy said he won’t accept speculative “predators” making profits at the expense of “hundreds of thousands of jobs.” In a joint statement, the two leaders stressed “the significance of non-tariff trade and investment obstacles as well as the utilization of unfair practices within the framework of the global economy, which includes politically influenced foreign exchange rates, have reached an alarming state.”

According to local media reports, Merkel is scheduled to meet with US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke in Berlin on Tuesday to discuss the turmoil in the financial markets. Topics will include the current banking crisis and the US subprime mortgage decline, German government spokesman Thomas Steg was quoted as saying. (