News / Europe

EU Moves on Budget Rules, Works to Promote Growth

European Parliament President Martin Schulz holds a news conference during a European Union summit in Brussels, January 30, 2012.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz holds a news conference during a European Union summit in Brussels, January 30, 2012.
Al Pessin

All but two European Union member countries have agreed on new fiscal rules designed to ensure there is not another regional debt crisis, and to regain the confidence of the financial markets.

The 27 European Union heads of government came to Brussels to finalize what is called the “fiscal compact” to avoid future crises, and to find ways to promote economic growth to lift their countries out of the current one.

The accord, which sets strict rules for government budgets, was approved by 25 of the leaders and is to be signed in March. Britain and the Czech Republic did not join the accord. Britain says it would take away too many powers it has to regulate its own economy.

The European leaders have been the targets of much criticism for not doing enough quickly enough to address the debt crisis and accompanying economic downturn. But the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said the continent's effort is on track.

“We have a strategy, and we are staying the course,” Barroso said.

His colleague, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, said he is not concerned that the two countries did not join the new agreement, saying the 17 that use the common euro currency and other interested countries must be able to work on their problems, even if the EU is not unanimous on the approach.

“With this treaty we maintain as much as possible the unity of the union, taking into account that those who have a common currency have the possibility to deal with the problems linked to their currency,” Van Rompuy said.

The European leaders also took several steps designed to stimulate economic growth, launching programs to help small businesses and to create jobs, particularly for young people. But they acknowledge the effort is difficult at a time when most countries do not have enough money to directly create jobs or stimulate economic growth.

The head of the Brussels-based research organization Friends of Europe, Giles Merritt, says European leaders and their people still have not faced up to the fundamental challenge before them.

“I don't think they've got very good marks from anybody. We all know Europe has been living beyond its means. There has to be a complete sort of restructuring of European society. We all know that. What we don't know is how to do it," Merritt said.

Merritt says European countries can no longer afford the generous social programs they provide to their people, but spending cuts to reduce or eliminate those programs are hugely unpopular.

Monday's summit coincided with a general strike in Belgium, called to protest that government's austerity plans. Merritt says more such actions, what he called “social sulking,” lie ahead as Europe faces a summer of slow growth or recession.

Meanwhile, one of Europe's most troubled economies, Greece, moved closer to agreement with creditors to restructure its debt, and default on part of it. A deal is expected within days, although Greek leaders rejected calls for EU officials to be given veto power over their future budgeting decisions.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid