Aug. 29 - The round of top level meetings between key European players continued, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Italy's economic reforms during a visit from Prime Minister Mario Monti. Monti says Rome's recent debt sales have gone well, but all eyes are now on the ECB's bond buying plan. Joanna Partridge reports.
The tourists were watching - but summer holidays are well and truly over for Europe's leaders. In the latest round of top-level meetings, German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to Berlin. The euro zone's troubles may have been quiet during August - but September will be crunch time. Merkel praised Italy's economic reforms at a joint news conference. She said Europe's leaders need to work more closely with Brussels and the European Central Bank to stabilise the euro zone. SOUNDBITE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying (English): "We are convinced that the path we have chosen is the right one and we are also convinced that we have to improve co-operation in the euro zone and therefore we will support the work of Herman Van Rompuy, Jose Manuel Barroso, Mario Draghi, Jean-Claude Juncker with our own suggestions." Before travelling to Germany, Monti said he'd put more pressure on Merkel to set up an efficient way to stop high borrowing costs. For several months Italy and Spain have had to pay record amounts to sell their longer-term debt. Although Rome's six-month borrowing costs hit their lowest level since March on Wednesday. SOUNDBITE: Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, saying (Italian): "The progress that we have achieved is slowly starting to be acknowledged by the markets. We got good results with our government bonds yesterday and today especially when you look at the interest rates and international organisations have also acknowledged this." Investors regained their appetite for Italian debt on hopes the ECB will start buying bonds again - that scheme is supposed to stop Italy's and Spain's troubles spreading. Merkel acknowledged Rome pays a lot more to sell debt than Berlin. It's hoped the ECB will lay out ways to change this when it details its new bond buying plan in early September. Joanna Partridge, Reuters