Paris: Europe faces a long road ahead to restore investor confidence, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday, after a stinging series of S&P ratings downgrades sparked a determined response.
   
On Saturday, Standard and Poor's spared Germany's top AAA rating, citing its strong economy and finances but in what was taken as a hurtful dressing down, cut France by one notch to AA+.
   
S&P also downgraded Italy and Spain, the two countries seen next most at risk in the eurozone debt crisis, by two notches as it affirmed seven and downgraded nine eurozone states in all.
    
The action was merited because "the policy initiatives taken by European policymakers in recent weeks may be insufficient to fully address ongoing systemic stresses in the eurozone," it said.

(Agencies)