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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid