EU summit seeks solution to debt crisis

Updated: 2011-12-08 08:04

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

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BRUSSELS - European Union leaders will start their latest summit on Thursday to seek a long-term solution to the bloc's worsening debt crisis and boost economic growth.

The summit is being held soon after new governments were formed in EU members Greece, Italy and Belgium to tackle the countries' economic problems.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said over the past months that the EU has taken important decisions to strengthen its economic governance, boost growth and create jobs.

"Now has come the time to fully implement them. This is the signal we should give in our conclusions," said Van Rompuy.

Ireland's RTE News reported that Van Rompuy would present a draft document to the leaders at the summit, where Croatia will be welcomed as the EU's 28th member state.

The document said that many of the elements needed to bring the eurozone closer to fiscal union are already in place and that wholesale treaty changes may not be necessary.

The report suggests that a relatively minor change to the existing rules on fiscal discipline, as enshrined in the Maastricht Treaty, could be enough to avoid changes to the EU treaties.

According to European laws, any wholesale reopening of the existing treaties would require an intergovernmental conference and a European convention, involving the European Parliament and national parliaments and such a process could be time consuming, RTE News said on Wednesday.

The US is trying to influence the measures taken to resolve the European debt crisis, which European leaders are unwilling to accept.

Later on Wednesday, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris after his meeting with German leaders on Tuesday.

Geithner voiced strong support for a Franco-German blueprint for an overhaul of the EU treaties during a visit to Berlin on Tuesday, after credit rating agency Standard & Poor's threatened to cut the credit rating of the European Financial Stability Facility rescue fund.

Geithner said the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank should play a central role in helping to solve the debt crisis.

Germany and France already made a breakthrough on Monday to seek closer European cooperation and work toward a fiscal compact for the eurozone.

Bloomberg quoted German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble as saying that S&P's warning was the "best encouragement" to drive toward a solution at this week's summit in Brussels after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sarkozy strengthened their push for new rules to tighten eurozone economic cooperation.

Beijing expects that the EU will make some new policy decisions at the summit, which may stabilize markets, boost confidence and prevent the escalation and of the debt crisis.

"China will continue its support for European integration and efforts to solve the debt crisis, and it will continuously make contributions to the stabilization of global financial markets and economic recovery and growth," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing on Wednesday.