The weak state of the French economy and uncertain outlook for budget targets was in focus on Wednesday after official data confirmed that the country is in recession. Weak growth and public finances in France are of acute concern to the European Commission and to Germany which is the main powerhouse in the Euro zone.
The figures are also watched closely on nervous financial markets.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Pope Francis and, apparently responding to his criticism of a heartless dictatorship of the economy and the “cult of money”, called for stronger regulation of financial markets.
German President Joachim Gauck arrived on Sunday to Brazil with economic and trade issues as the centre of his visit. The trip to Sao Paulo marks the start of the Year of Germany in Brazil, which Gauck's predecessor Christian Wulff agreed on with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in May 2011.
Germany is keen to boost its already substantial investment in Brazil ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Rio summer Olympics, the new president of the Brazil-Germany Chamber of Commerce said.
Germany's two main opposition parties traded warnings against joining forces with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives after September's election if they fail to win their own left-of-centre majority.
Highly indebted, without access to capital, viewed suspiciously by creditors, that was Germany in 1953. Half the country's debts were canceled 60 years ago this week, the foundation of the economic miracle.
The Euro zone slipped deeper into recession in the last three months of 2012 after its largest economies, Germany and France, shrank markedly at the end of the year. It marked the bloc's first full year in which no quarter produced growth, extending back to 1995.
European leaders agreed on Friday to press on with further steps to tackle their debt crisis but German Chancellor Angela Merkel threw out a proposal to boost risk-sharing with a fund to help Euro zone states in trouble.
The European Union reached a landmark deal on Thursday to make the European Central Bank the bloc's top banking supervisor, giving EU leaders greater confidence that they are gaining the upper hand over the Euro zone's debt crisis.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded stronger central powers for the European Union's executive to veto national budgets that breach EU rules, risking a clash with close ally France at a summit of the bloc's leaders.