News / Europe

EU Leaders Meet Amid More Grim Economic News

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, right, welcomes Greek Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, May 23, 2012.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, right, welcomes Greek Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, May 23, 2012.
Lisa Bryant
PARIS - European leaders gather for an informal dinner summit in Brussels Wednesday, dominated by increasing calls for growth measures and gloomy news about the state of the eurozone economy. France's new president Francois Hollande is expected to champion a particularly controversial measure - eurobonds.

This latest meeting of European Union leaders takes place amid a changed political and economic landscape. To be sure, the main problem facing the 27 European leaders remains the same; creating jobs and growing the troubled eurozone economy. Pressure for strong and speedy action is mounting amid fears that the eurozone's weakest member - Greece - may soon exit the 17-nation currency union, a move that may spark a larger crisis.

"I don't think the eurozone has turned the corner," said Thomas Klau, who heads the Paris office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. "It's turned the corner in terms of the political will. I think the mainstream parties across the eurozone are very strongly committed to keeping the eurozone intact and see it through this crisis. But I don't think they've done enough to make that commitment work in practice."

European leaders received more grim economic news this week. A report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned the eurozone risked severe recession. The OECD's chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan called for swift action.

"Things have begun to deteriorate again recently. So we cannot rule out a downside scenario which, if ignited, could lead to serious repercussions worldwide," Padoan warned.

EU leaders are facing growing calls for injecting growth measures along with budget cuts in dealing with the eurozone crisis. That message was delivered by U.S. President Barack Obama at the Group of Eight summit at Camp David last week.

"Today we agreed that we must take steps to boost confidence and to promote growth and demand while getting our fiscal houses in order," Obama said. "We agreed to the importance of a strong and cohesive eurozone and affirmed our interest in Greece's staying in the eurozone while respecting its commitments."

France's new President Francois Hollande will be bringing that message to Brussels, during his first meeting with his European counterparts. His strong support of growth puts him at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also wants strong doses of austerity and structural reforms.

The leaders of Europe's largest economies are also split on the concept of eurobonds - jointly issued bonds that could fund just about anything and might eventually replace the debt of a given EU country. Merkel is against them.  But Hollande will push for eurobonds during the Brussels summit.

French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici says all options will be considered in Brussels, including eurobonds. The idea is gaining traction in Europe. Several top EU officials, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, are for them.

At a recent news conference, Barroso outlined a more modest pilot of "project bonds."
It will be a completely new mechanism and system of getting some financing and investment in projects that are important in Europe.

Analyst Klau says these specific project bonds are one area where France and Germany can agree.

"That's essentially a joint bond-finance infrastructure  project - roads for example - which would provide long-term stimulus to the economy," Klau said.

European leaders will likely be discussing other ways to stimulate Europe's economy, along with helping out large and troubled European banks, like those in Spain, which are floundering during the economic crisis.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid