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German Chancellor Angela Merkel reopened the divisive issue of bank interest rate policy by saying that Germany would ideally need higher rates than would suit southern Europe, reports the Financial Times.

“The German chancellor’s highly unusual intervention on Thursday, a week before many economists expect the independent European Central Bank [ECB] to cut its main interest rate, highlights how the economies of the prosperous north and austerity-hit south remain far apart,” writes the economic daily.

Her comments came as new jobless figures showing Spain has more than 6 million people out of work, while France has a new high of 3.2 million, underlining the challenge facing the ECB in setting an interest rate to suit the different economic situations of countries in the EU.