BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel urged European Union countries on Saturday to carry out further structural reforms, saying Germany could only remain in good shape if the European economy recovers.
"That's why it's very much in Germany's interest to do everything it can to ensure other states implement structural reforms, that budgets are made solid and that economic activity is stimulated in this way," she said in a video podcast.
Merkel, who will seek a third four-year term in an election due in September, praised progress made by the region so far, saying EU states had already implemented a lot of structural reforms and that the continent had generally improved.
Europe's economic health is crucial to Germany, the continent's largest economy. It sends some 40 percent of its exports to the 17-nation euro zone and 60 percent to the wider 27-member European Union.
Merkel also urged the EU to "campaign intensively" for a free trade agreement between the United States and Europe in a bid to speed up bilateral commerce.
France has said it wants the European Commission's mandate for the negotiations to exclude the audio-visual industry.
(Reporting by Michelle Martin, editing by Gareth Jones)