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European Leaders Meet to Address Debt Crisis


Leaders expected to discuss making minor changes to EU's treaty in order to create a permanent system for handling financial crises beginning in 2013

European Union leaders are set to meet Thursday in Brussels to address the continent's debt crisis, which has already included international bailouts for Greece and Ireland.

At the two-day meeting, the leaders are expected to discuss making minor changes to the EU's treaty in order to create a permanent system for handling financial crises beginning in 2013.

But they are at odds about how best to cope with the disparate economic conditions across Europe, with debts and deficits in some countries while Germany, France and other nations prosper.

Some policy makers have suggested increasing the size of the $1 trillion bailout fund for the 16 nations that use the common euro currency. But some countries, including Germany, have opposed boosting the fund, saying only a small amount of the existing money has been committed so far.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker says Europe needs to sell common bonds to cut interest rates for financially weaker European countries that now sell their own.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opposed both ideas. German bonds that carry the lowest interest rates are the European benchmark. The debts of other nations are financed at higher interest rates, which are better for investors but more costly for governments.

Mrs. Merkel said common European bonds with higher interest rates than those of Germany would cost the country money and would weaken the resolve of other nations to curb their deficits.

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