German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday denied
accusations by French President Francois Hollande that she had hit
the brakes on the creation of a eurozone banking supervisor because
of domestic electoral concerns.
"That is not true. I had not even thought about it before I heard about it here," she told reporters at the end of a two-day European Union summit in Brussels.
German voters will head to the polls next year to elect parliament, determining whether Merkel can remain chancellor.
Asked why Paris and Berlin had different priorities, French President Francois Hollande had suggested on Thursday that "the reasons can be found in the electoral calendar."
Initial plans had called for the eurozone supervisor - the first step towards a confidence-inducing banking union - to be up and running by January 1.
But Germany and other countries sceptical about the timeline managed to convince their EU counterparts to implement the mechanism more gradually in 2013. It remained unclear what its new launch date would be.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who also chairs the influential Eurogroup panel of eurozone finance ministers, said he hoped to see the implementation completed in the first half of 2013.
Hollande spoke of the work taking "several weeks, several months," while Merkel said she would be satisfied if it could be done in less than 12 months.
The competing visions between Berlin and Paris - the EU's traditional power tandem - overshadowed the two-day Brussels summit. Juncker on Friday slammed the heavy media coverage of the disagreements as "grotesque."
"There is no boxing match taking place here between Germany and France. It was a serious discussion among 27 (EU) member states," he said. "The important thing is that it has been established that the banking union is possible."
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