European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn with Angel Gurria, right, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) demanded more reforms and a stronger financial rescue fund to help the eurozone recover from its debt crisis. The call by the Paris-based group comes just days before a key European finance meeting in Copenhagen.
In a new report out Tuesday, the OECD offered a small dose of good news for Europe, predicting .2 percent growth this year for the 17-nation euro currency zone. Both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission predict the eurozone economy will shrink in 2012.
But at a press conference in Brussels, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria warned the eurozone debt crisis is far from over, and outlined steps he said are vital for the region to recover from its two-year slump.
"Europe needs to step up its efforts to create the conditions for sustainable growth. Progress is under way, but we're still not out of the woods," said Gurria.
While praising progress already made, Gurria called on eurozone nations to balance austerity measures with those boosting growth, competition and employment.
"Let us not forget that 24 million people in Europe are unemployed and that the youth unemployment rate is at record levels of up to 50 percent in some countries," Gurria added.
More immediately, Gurria called on eurozone countries to boost its rescue fund to $1.3 trillion, to ensure market confidence in the eurozone.
"The mother of all firewalls should be in place - strong enough, broad enough, deep enough…to be sure it doesn't even need to be used. So that people know that it's there and will not even attempt to either speculate or see if it's strong enough," Gurria explained.
European Union finance ministers will discuss increasing the bailout fund when they meet in Copenhagen on Friday. Germany has signaled it could support an increase to about $930 billion, but that falls well short of what the OECD is recommending.