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EU Leaders Discuss Global Financial Crisis


European leaders are meeting in Brussels Friday to discuss a joint strategy for tackling the global financial crisis ahead of next week's meeting in Washington on the issue. Lisa Bryant has more for VOA from Paris.

Current European Union president, France, is taking the initiative on the meeting, as it pushes for quick action to tackle the global financial meltdown. The Agence France-Presse news agency (AFP) reports French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants concrete proposals to reform the financial system within 100 days after next week's meeting in Washington that gathers the world's top 20 economies. There is also talk of giving the International Monetary Fund a much larger role on stabilizing the financial system.

French European affairs minister Jean-Pierre Joyet spoke to reporters before Friday's meeting.

Joyet said international leaders have an historic occasion to define new rules and organizing methods of the world financial system. Friday's EU meeting, he said, would agree on a calendar and work method, and common support for a greater role by the IMF.

But European leaders are far from united on what is needed to tackle the financial crisis, as Center for European Reform analyst Katinka Barysch points out.

"Within the European Union you have quite significant differences at the moment between the governments on what the longer term reaction to the crisis should be," said Barysch. "And Sarkozy, who is called a hyperactive president, is coming up with a wealth of proposals about what the EU should do and most of them are being shot down as soon as they emerge."

In particular, European governments are divided over just how much the government should intervene to regulate the financial system. Those divisions are also likely to be reflected during next week's summit, with the outgoing Bush administration more cautious about a fundamental overhaul of the system. Analysts also believe little action is likely until a new US administration under President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

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