Euro could explode minister warns before summit


Brussels, Belgium (CNN) -- The euro could "explode" and Europe could "unravel," France's minister for European affairs, Jean Leonetti, warned Thursday.

That would be a "disaster not only for Europe but for the whole world," Leonetti told the French TV station Canal+ as European leaders gathered in Brussels to try to save the common currency.

Germany and France are pushing for more European Union influence over the national budgets of the countries that use the euro, after the national debts of members including Ireland and Greece pushed the currency to the brink of collapse.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who lead the two largest economies in the 17-nation eurozone, will present details of their plans at the summit in Brussels.

But the plans could require all 27 members of the European Union to agree to change fundamental EU treaties -- and British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to drive a hard bargain before he will go along.

The United Kingdom is one of 10 EU countries that does not use the euro.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been touring Europe ahead of the summit to underline the importance of the EU's bringing the crisis under control.

"I want to emphasize again how important it is to the United States and to countries around the world that Europe succeeds in this effort to build a stronger Europe, and I'm confident they will succeed," Geithner said in France Wednesday.

Some details about another EU plan have already leaked.

European nations could be penalized by being stripped of some powers if they fail to manage their budgets, according to a confidential memo from European Commission President Herman Van Rompuy leaked Tuesday.

Van Rompuy's proposals may be even stricter than those of Merkel and Sarkozy.

The five-page memo proposes that the European Commission might be given the right to strip voting rights within the European Union from some countries who have been bailed out but are still not meeting their deficit targets.

The executive arm of the EU could force bailed-out countries, such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal, to comply with deficit regulations, which for the entire EU currently stand at 3% of GDP.

The meeting will occur under the shadow of a recent report from the rating agency Standard & Poor's, which threatened to downgrade 15 eurozone member states. Even the AAA-rated nations France and Germany have been placed on review for possible downgrade as the debt crisis continues to worsen.

Two eurozone members were not placed on credit watch -- Greece, because its credit rating already reflects a high risk of default, and Cyprus, which was already under review.

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