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Merkel pushes for binding European reforms

Wednesday - 12/18/2013, 5:16am  ET

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, blows her nose as she sits beside German Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, left, during a meeting of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN (AP) -- 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 continent's 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.

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