Merkel says open to future eurozone 'solidarity fund'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday said she would be open to a future eurozone "solidarity fund" for crisis-hit nations, once the zone has agreed a unified financial and economic policy.

But she did not define how such a body would look, and stressed that Europe did not needs another fund but structural reform.

In particular the European Union needed to invest in education and research to stay globally competitive.

The first priority was for eurozone countries to agree on "the content and substance" of joint financial and economic governance, which would have to be settled and then approved by national parliaments.

"Given such a context, I could imagine a solidarity mechanism, tightly linked to conditions, for example in the form of a fund for the eurozone," Merkel told the German parliament.

However Merkel, who faces elections in September, was quick to stress that Europe's biggest economy does not want to dole out money but make sure the entire bloc is economically competitive.

"I will say quite clearly: whenever Europe speaks of a solidarity mechanism, it is immediately increased and broadened, and in the end no-one speaks about the parameters for competitiveness anymore, but only about a new source of funding -- and this is something Germany won't stand for."

She said Berlin "insists that the problems in Europe and the eurozone are tackled at the root and solved step by step so that the monetary union will finally become a stability union.

"For that, in Europe, we need a solid financial policy, to boost growth through structural reforms, and more investment in education and research."

Speaking hours before the start of an EU summit in Brussels, she also struck a hopeful note: "I am more convinced, more than ever, that if Europe learns from its mistakes and sticks to the path it has chosen, we will achieve our goals, a strong Europe ... stability and growth".