German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday Europe would emerge stronger from its debt crisis than it entered it, as long as it had the courage to take reforms, for example to improve competitiveness.

"This courage to bring about change is what we need, and therefore I am convinced that Europe will manage to come out of this crisis stronger than it went into it," Merkel told the German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.

"This is the great mission of our times," she said shortly before heading to Brussels for an EU summit.

Merkel, who smiled as she addressed lawmakers, said Germany had already managed to emerge stronger from the 2008/09 financial market crisis.

(Reporting By Sarah Marsh and Madeline Chambers)