Split the euro zone in two, says Germany's far-right co-leader

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 10, 2017 14:46 hrs
Anti-immigration party AfD leader Meuthen addresses a news conference at the Bundespressekonferenz in Berlin

The euro zone should be split into two with a strong cluster around Germany and a weak cluster including France, the co-leader of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Joerg Meuthen, said in a Reuters interview.

"The euro is a seed of discord in Europe that has different currency cultures and different competitiveness levels," Meuthen said.

The AfD has climbed to 15 percent in opinion polls ahead of September's election, but no other party in Germany is willing to form a coalition with it.

Meuthen, speaking by telephone, said the German economy could suffer for a year or two in the wake of such a euro zone split.

"The euro is too strong for southern European countries while for Germany and several others it's too weak," he said.

"It's conceivable that the weaker countries leave," he said, mentioning Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. He said Greece is so weak that no country wants to share a currency with it.

Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Finland should remain in the core euro group, he said, even though a stronger currency would hurt exports from those countries.

"That could cause an economic slump (in Germany)," he added. "It's impossible to say how deep. But in my view the economic slump would be over in about a year or two."

Meuthen distanced himself from a proposal from France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen. She said that France should leave the euro but shift to a new national currency accompanied by a framework similar to the pre-euro era of the ECU.

"The euro exit shouldn't be linked to a fixed exchange rate system," he said. "The currencies need to be able to breathe."

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