German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for her European partners to show great perseverance over the long haul, predicting the region will need at least another five years to overcome its severe sovereign debt crisis.

"We need a great effort, of five years and more," Merkel said Saturday at a gathering of her Christian Democratic Union party in the northeastern German town of Sternberg.

The chancellor said the euro zone is far from overcoming the crisis and that big structural reforms are needed to restore investor confidence and spur economic growth in Europe.

"There are a lot of investors who don't believe we keep our promises," Merkel said, stressing the importance of EU countries meeting their budget consolidation and debt reduction targets.

"We need austerity to convince the world that it's worth investing in Europe," she said.

Germany has been the strongest proponent of austerity in heavily indebted countries such as Greece and Spain, both of which have unemployment rates of more than 25 percent. EFE