News / Europe

In Brussels, EU Leaders Focus on Growth

France's President Francois Hollande (R) talks to the media as he arrives at an informal EU leaders summit in Brussels, May 23, 2012.France's President Francois Hollande (R) talks to the media as he arrives at an informal EU leaders summit in Brussels, May 23, 2012.
x
France's President Francois Hollande (R) talks to the media as he arrives at an informal EU leaders summit in Brussels, May 23, 2012.
France's President Francois Hollande (R) talks to the media as he arrives at an informal EU leaders summit in Brussels, May 23, 2012.
Lisa BryantMike Richman
PARIS - Leaders of the 27 nations that comprise the European Union have opened a summit aimed at solving the bloc's debt crisis.

The dinner summit in Brussels will be dominated by increasing calls for growth measures, the creation of jobs and stimulating the troubled eurozone economy, which has been hit with grim news. This week, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the eurozone risked severe recession.

The EU's focus has shifted from austerity to pro-growth policies since the election of Socialist Francois Hollande as president of France and the political stalemate in Greece, where voters rejected the political parties that agreed to severe budget cuts in exchange for a financial bailout package. Hollande's influence is at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has led the austerity drive since the debt crisis began.

An economist with the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Uri Dadush, said the austerity measures will prevail in the end because the markets will not finance current or increased levels of debt.

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 could spark a larger crisis.

Thomas Klau, head of the Paris office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the eurozone has a long way to go before regaining stability.

"I don't think the eurozone has turned the corner," Klau said. "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."

All ideas on the table

According to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, no ideas for resolving the issues are unacceptable for Wednesday's summit. He also said long-term solutions should be explored.

The ideas expected to be raised include issuing so-called eurobonds, under which wealthier European nations would guarantee the borrowing costs of financially struggling countries. Merkel is adamantly opposed to eurobonds, a stance shared by Finland, The Netherlands and Austria.

But the idea of eurobonds is gaining traction in Europe. Some top EU officials, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, support them.

Barroso recently outlined a modest pilot of "project bonds." He described them as a "completely new mechanism and system of getting some financing and investment in projects that are important in Europe." Klau said the "project bonds" are one area where France and Germany can agree.

The European Parliament just agreed to a pilot program that would use nearly $300 million of "project bonds" in 2012 and 2013 to finance about $5.8 billion in investment projects.

Obama weighs in

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama weighed in on the eurozone crisis. At the Group of Eight summit just outside Washington, he called for EU leaders to inject growth measures and make budget cuts to stimulate the European economy.

"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."

In addition to discussing ways to stimulate Europe's economy, leaders at the Brussels summit may also consider helping large and troubled European banks like those in Spain that are struggling during the crisis.

But no major decisions are expected until another summit in late June, shortly after Greece holds a new round of elections.

Mike Richman reported from Washington.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More