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  • Germany is expecting 800,000 asylum seekers this year, four times higher than in 2014, says Labour and Social Affairs minister
  • Polish PM Ewa Kopacz says the European Union must help people who flee wars, and Poland is ready to discuss its role, but it does not want to accept automatic quotas
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on fellow European leaders on Wednesday to agree an ambitious, concrete plan for closer fiscal and economic integration next month that can then be put in place over the next two to three years.

In a speech to the European Parliament in Brussels, Merkel said the crisis-hit currency bloc could only win back confidence by pressing ahead with economic reforms and laying out a roadmap for deeper unity.

“I will work to ensure that we agree an ambitious roadmap in December for renewing our economic and monetary union,” Merkel said. “It should include concrete measures that we can implement over the coming two to three years.”

EU leaders are due to meet in mid-December to discuss changes to the rules governing their common currency, including closer coordination of economic policies.

Merkel set out four elements in her speech, including harmonising financial market regulation, closer fiscal and
economic policy integration, and steps to ensure greater democratic legitimacy for decisions taken at the European level.

She reiterated her support for giving European institutions new rights to intervene in national budgets when they violated EU rules. She also spoke of the need for closer coordination of labour and tax policies, while making clear that the sovereignty of member states in these areas must be respected.

Despite her push for a “deeper” union, Merkel made clear that she did not want a two-speed Europe, dividing members of the currency bloc from those EU members which do not use the euro.

After her appearance in Brussels, Merkel is due to travel to London to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron amid a standoff over the EU’s medium-term budget. Under pressure from euro-sceptics in his party, Cameron is gradually pulling away from Europe to the irritation of EU states including Germany.

Reuters

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