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Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 08:53 UK

Darling: Eurozone economies 'need growth'

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The Labour MP and former Chancellor, Alistair Darling, has said that Germany's unilateral ban on speculative trading practices - known as naked short-selling - is "displacement activity" and that European governments should concentrate on encouraging economic growth

Speaking as Germany hosts an international conference on global financial markets which seems likely to expose divisions among the Group of Twenty nations taking part, Mr Darling told Today presenter Evan Davis that "the thing that is missing in all the debates we've seen over the last few weeks is, how do you get growth in Europe, and particularly within the Euro area?"

He added that "countries like Germany have to recognise that they have got responsibilities, but also it's in their own interest to make sure that countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain get growth. If we don't deal with that, we will end up by muddling along, and the risk in muddling along is that you eventually run out of steam and you get into great difficulty.

"So, I really do think that it is the political and economic solutions they need to concentrate on. This stuff about short selling, I think it's about German politics, it's displacement activity. There is a case for tougher financial services regulation, but that's not the big issue in relation to the euro at the moment."

The current crisis afflicting the euro has seen its value plunge on international exchanges in recent days, with global stock markets following suit. Elsewhere thousands of Greek protestors have gathered in central Athens as unions hold a general strike against government austerity measures aimed at reducing the country's huge public debt and stabilising the euro.

The 24-hour hour strike has closed schools and halted ferries and trains across the country.

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