"(It will) certainly take a decade until we are in a better position again," Merkel said in her weekly podcast. "We have a whole chunk of work ahead of us, I've got to say."
Merkel spoke a day after the euro zone failed to secure new money at a G20 summit from potential investors such as China and Brazil for its efforts to overcome the debt crisis.
Uncertainty about efforts to tackle the crisis persisted on Saturday. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who survived a confidence vote on Friday but is expected to step down, said negotiations to form a coalition government would start soon.
He called for a broad-based government to secure a bailout from the euro zone, the main weapon in Europe's battle against the spreading economic crisis.
Merkel said all of Europe had overspent for years but welcomed that all euro zone members had agreed to a debt brake like Germany's.
"Almost all European countries have spent more over the years than they earned," she said.