News / Europe

European Leaders Pressed to Deliver at Crisis Summit

European leaders are gathering in Brussels for a critical end-of-year summit, another attempt to resolve a sovereign debt and banking crisis threatening the very future of the euro currency union.  Pressure is on for them to come out with a definitive deal this time around, after what critics claim are months of half-measures.

This is not the first time a European Union summit has been described as the last chance to save the struggling euro currency union.  But the 27 EU leaders gathering Thursday and Friday in Brussels face extraordinary pressure, at home and abroad,to deliver a lasting solution to the two-year-old eurozone crisis.

The plan on the table is authored by Europe's two biggest economies, France and Germany.  They want to overhaul EU treaties to forge a more binding and fiscally responsible eurozone. The two leaders outlined the details of their vision on Wednesday, in a letter to EU President Herman van Rompuy.

Watch related report by Al Pessin:

At a joint press conference with his German counterpart Angela Merkel earlier this week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the crisis has given the two countries an extra reason for unity.  He said both countries envision the same kind of Europe.

But their plan must still be accepted by the other 25 EU members or at very least, the 17 members of the eurozone.  And that, says analyst Philippe Moreau Defarges, of the French Institute of International Relations, is not at all certain.

"There will be a very strong pressure to accept this deal.  Not only from the eurozone members, but also outside the eurozone," he said. "I think the British should back this agreement.  But it will be difficult. "

British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose country is not part of the euro currency union, has already expressed reservations.  He told British TV his first priority at the summit will be to defend British interests.

"Eurozone countries do need to come together, do need to do more things together.  If they choose to use the European treaty to do that, Britain will be insisting on some safeguards too.  And as long as we get those, then that treaty can go ahead," said Cameron. "If we cannot get those, it will not."

BNP Parisbas bank economist Shahin Vallee, a visiting fellow at Brussels economic think-tank Bruegel, does not think any deal reached will be enough.

"I think not, unfortunately.  I think this proposal rests on the idea that with stronger fiscal rules and more automaticity of those rules the euro area will be stronger and financial markets will be comforted and have more belief in the long term sustainability of the euro area, and I think this is an illusion," said Vallee.

French analyst Moreau Defarges also has his doubts about the French-German plan.

"It is a very partial, a very institutional, a very budgetary and fiscal answer to the euro crisis.  The euro crisis is a growth crisis, a problem of growth," said Defarges. "Will the European Union find a new path toward growth?  That is the key question."

Even if the other EU countries accept the French-German plan, it will take months, if not years, to fully implement it, because it may require amending EU treaties.  Analysts like Vallee say Europe's crisis needs immediate action.

"I think the right solution  would be to have a more ambitious treaty change, take the necessary time to negotiate the provisions of this new treaty, while at the same time doing something that is immediately operational to respond to the crisis and the urgency of the crisis," noted Vallee.

Adding to the pressure, ratings agency Standard & Poor's has threatened to downgrade the credit rating of 15 eurozone members, including heavyweights France and Germany.  There are fears the crisis could spread overseas, slowing growth in Africa and Asia and threatening America's fragile recovery.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been meeting with top officials and heads of state in Europe this week, underscoring Washington's concern.

"I am here in Europe, of course, to emphasize how important it is to the United States, and to the world economy as a whole, that Germany and France succeed alongside the other nations of Europe in building a stronger Europe," said Geithner.

The eurozone crisis has rekindled longstanding debates on whether the European Union should head toward more unity, economically and politically or does the crisis underscore the failure of European integration?  Vallee believes resolving these and other EU visions is also critical to resolving the eurozone crisis.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid