EU 'will solve its debt crisis'
Updated: 2012-02-13 08:05
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Police officers clash with demonstrators who gathered in front of the Greek parliament to protest against austerity measures in Athens on Saturday. [Louisa Gouliamaki / Agence France-Presse]
European leader says measures to tackle problem are being taken
BRUSSELS - The European Union itself, not China or any other emerging nation, will solve the eurozone debt crisis, European Council President Herman van Rompuy, said.
"The debt crisis in the eurozone is being solved by its members - the euro is a part of the DNA of Europe, a common currency at the heart of the daily life of more than 300 million citizens," Van Rompuy told China Daily in an interview before departing on a visit to India and China.
"All European leaders are determined to do whatever is needed to overcome the crisis," he said.
Van Rompuy will attend a summit with Chinese leaders on Tuesday. His remarks have dented speculation that the reason for his visit is mainly to seek Beijing's support in tackling the debt crisis.
His agenda includes cooperation on global and regional issues and this emphasizes the strategic interdependence between China and Europe, he said.
The EU has established a permanent rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, and that should be in place by the summer. It will have funds of 500 billion euros ($660 billion).
The existing rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), still has about 250 billion euros. More funds may be needed to build a firewall to protect bigger eurozone economies that may face difficulty.
Beijing has been closely watched by the market, especially after the EFSF head Klaus Regling visited China and other countries for help at the end of last year.
After weeks of internal consultation, Beijing has basically reached a consensus that it will act to enrich a bailout fund through international financial institutions once Europe comes up with a deliverable solution to the crisis, experts said. Chinese leaders are expected to reveal their position at the summit on Tuesday.
Van Rompuy said he appreciated the confidence Beijing has always demonstrated toward Europe and the euro.
The euro is a global reserve currency, second only to the US dollar, he said. "There is no doubt that the stability of the eurozone is important for the world economy".
Francois Godement, an expert on Chinese and East Asian affairs at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, said the unfolding European crisis is "bound to be a high priority" on the China-EU agenda.
China's goodwill is in contrast to US reluctance to contribute to a bailout plan, Godement said.
Van Rompuy said China and the EU are in the same boat because of their interdependence.
For example, as China's biggest export market, Europe has helped Chinese economic growth, he said. "On the other hand, China is our fastest growing market and an important force in stabilizing the euro."
Measures have been taken to restore confidence and growth, through financial firewalls, tightening fiscal policies and structural reforms, he added.
For the Tuesday summit, Beijing and Brussels have identified two main areas where they can make the "comprehensive strategic partnership" stronger. They will launch a brand new "high-level dialogue" aimed at improving communication between people.
"The EU and China, with almost 1.8 billion human beings, expect this dialogue to have real added value," Van Rompuy said.
"It will add another pillar to our architecture next to the economy and security," he said.
A partnership on "sustainable urbanization" will also be launched after China reached the symbolic point last year where the urban population exceeded the rural one.
The common objective will be to share and develop expertise in addressing this enormous challenge, he said.
Gu Junli, an expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Europe is also expected to provide cutting-edge technology to help China achieve environmental sustainability. "Europe is expected to enhance cooperation with China in eliminating pollution and inspiring Chinese policymakers to come up with new solutions in urban development," Gu said.
Zhang Yunbi in Beijing contributed to this story.