Car industry executives from around the globe urged Europe's politicians to take bolder steps to solve the bloc's two-year-old debt crisis, warning its single currency could be derailed without more decisive action.
The euro was under pressure again on Tuesday with debt markets increasingly pricing in a Greek sovereign debt default and the US government voicing its alarm at Europe's inability to get a grip on the crisis.
US President Barack Obama expressed his concern in an interview with Spanish journalists published on Tuesday and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will take the unprecedented step of attending a meeting of EU finance ministers in Poland tomorrow.
The leading lights of the car industry, gathered in Frankfurt for the annual auto show, agreed that European policymakers had allowed the crisis to drag on too long.
The car industry, with production sites scattered across the continent, has always been one of the strong supporters of the single currency. Before the euro it had to juggle costs and sales in multiple currencies.
Ford Europe Chief Executive Stephen Odell said Europe's leaders need to act fast.
"My request to the politicians is even if the medicine's painful — and there's a lot of painful medicine out there — we need to apply it quickly and robustly so we can have a sustainable base."
Although they expressed frustration, there was little advice on offer for the politicians as they grapple with the debt crisis, but Odell summed up the views of many. "I just want to see some agreement, stability and people sticking to that. In business, there's nothing worse in life than uncertainty and we've got a whole lot of uncertainty."
Daimler's support for the single currency was undimmed by the crisis but its Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche was clear that if Greece is eventually forced to exit the single currency it should be done in a way that protects the integrity of the bulk of the Euro-zone. "We are clear proponents for a strong united Europe," he said.
"We believe it is the only way to be relevant on a global scale and that is definitely what we are hoping for and voting for. I am really supporting a solution which allows the Eurozone to stay together....Otherwise you just go step by step and that is no choice."
Solution: Urging clarity
Carlos Ghosn, Chief Executive of Renault and Nissan said the key issue for Europe was a sense of clarity.
"You need fundamentally to know if this is one boat or not, and if it's one boat, fix it," said Ghosn. "Who's inside the boat, who's outside the boat and fix it.
"The problem is that uncertainty at this level is going to generate more damage than even taking a solution, even if it's not the perfect solution."