Conservatives vow Germany will not stand alone on ESM

BERLIN–Germany should only make early payments into the eurozone’s permanent rescue fund if other nations do the same, senior members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives said in a newspaper report on Tuesday. European leaders agreed earlier this month to accelerate the launch of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) by a year to mid-2012 to help solve the euro debt crisis, without going into details about the size and timing of contributions. Senior conservatives told Financial Times Deutschland Germany could pay early, but they would not let their country go it alone. The comments appeared designed to put pressure on Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble before final negotiations on the amounts in question take place next month. Politicians are keen to reassure increasingly skeptical German voters they will not be pushed into contributing unfair amounts to help their debt-ridden eurozone partners. “It cannot be the case that only the Germans pay in early,” Gerda Hasselfeldt, a senior member of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), told the paper.

“We are ready to make quicker payments but only if this is the case for all countries,” she said, saying Germany had to insist on this in negotiations with other states. Norbert Barthle, budget spokesman for Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), was also quoted by the paper as saying there should be no separate course of action for Germany. Schaeuble’s idea of transferring Germany’s contributions to the ESM earlier than originally planned to try to boost market confidence was worth considering.

“But then all eurozone countries would have to do that,” Barthle said, adding that France was possibly in a position to play its part but that he had doubts about Italy and Spain.

Germany’s total contribution to the paid-in capital is set at 21.5 billion euros. The Finance Ministry has said Germany had the option of paying more than the originally planned first installment of 4.3 billion euros but has stressed that no decision has been made. A German newspaper has reported that Germany could contribute 8.6 billion euros in 2012.

In a sign of increasing controversy over the eurozone crisis in Germany, outspoken veteran CDU politician Wolfgang Bosbach said there was a limit to how much help Berlin would offer Athens.