Re-elected Merkel renews push for European countries to make binding reform commitments

BERLIN – Chancellor Angela Merkel is renewing a push for European countries to make binding agreements to carry out economic reforms as she underlines continuity in her new government’s approach to the debt crisis.

Merkel told Parliament Wednesday in the first speech of her third term that the approach of seeking reforms in exchange for aid “has been proven right.” She pointed to Ireland’s exit from its bailout program and progress elsewhere.

But Merkel, who now heads a new coalition of right and left, says an economic upswing is “anything but already guaranteed” and more must be done.

Countries currently receive nonbinding annual recommendations on reform steps from the European Union’s executive Commission. Merkel is calling for binding contracts in the future though she expects only “slow progress” on the issue.