Merkel tells young Europeans to move to find work

By Stephen Evans
BBC News, Berlin

media captionAngela Merkel: "We need more mobility"

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has said the 3.6 million or so young unemployed people in the eurozone should be ready to move for work.

She has long been criticised in eurozone countries like Spain and Greece where unemployment is rising to previously unknown levels.

In an interview for the BBC, she said their level of joblessness represented a "huge crisis".

But she also resolutely defended the policy of tight controls on spending.

When unemployment among the young had soared in her own area of East Germany, "many young people... only had jobs because they moved to the south", she said.

There would have to be more "mobility", she argued.

"I think it's unfair that it is the young people especially who have to pay the bill for something they didn't do," she said.

"But there's no way around it. We have to manufacture products or offer services in Europe that we can sell."

'We all agreed'

Chancellor Merkel maintained that the fundamental policy was right.

She sometimes balks at the word "austerity" but said: "With regard to jobs and growth, the eurozone and other countries are in a difficult situation. The issue is not austerity, the issue is to get back to growth.

"This process is under way. Europe has to decide: how do we make a living? What do we want to produce? What do we want to manufacture? How can we cut red tape? How can we intensify trade?"

She said that the policy for Greece and Spain was not her personal idea but one agreed by the "Troika" of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union.

What did she feel when she saw anti-German demonstrations? "We have demonstrations not just abroad but also in Germany," she replied. "As a government, as politicians, we have to accept that. I want these countries to recover quickly."

She said the policy of balancing budgets had been applied flexibly.

"You know as well as me that the European countries all agreed to the growth and stability pact," she said. "Nevertheless, we gave many countries the possibility to have a deficit above 3%. France, for instance, but also Spain and Portugal."