The European Commission President and British Prime Minister met in London to discuss formulating a common European position before a crucial economic summit in early April. For
Given the scale of the current global economic difficulties, failure at the upcoming London economic summit is simply unthinkable.
Underscoring that point, the British government stresses the so-called G-20 gathering will be critical if the world wishes to avoid the economic turbulence seen the 1930s. During the weekend, finance ministers and central bankers from those 20 countries hashed out some details at a meeting south of London.
Following the ministers' meeting, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso met with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at his official London residence. Again, the focus was on refining the level of detail the participants can sign up to before the summit.
At a joint news conference, Gordon Brown welcomed the European chief.
"President Barroso and I have set out an ambitious, but necessary, agenda for the meeting that will take place in Brussels later this week and then the G-20 meeting in April, on April the second," he said.
In candid remarks, the European Commission President said the deep recession was being felt in every corner of Europe, but he added that a solution could be found in collective action.
"We have to implement a plan to get out of this mess. People need to feel confident that recovery will come. They need to know that we can act, that we will act and that we will act together. I firmly believe that there is a way out of this crisis," said Barroso. "Europe has unity, the confidence and the determination to win this battle. The European Commission has put forward a recovery plan, now we need to intensify our joint action at European level and also of course at global level."
As in other parts of the world, some banks in Europe have required help from the taxpayer. But Barroso warns that huge executive bonuses in such cases cannot be tolerated and more regulatory oversight will be necessary.
"Money does not grow on trees," added Barroso. "Profits cannot be private while debts are public. We need ethics back in the financial system and we need to put an end to shadow banking practices."
During the weekend there was much speculation in the British press the G-20 summit could be marred by opposing economic approaches with the United States and Britain favoring more stimulus, and Germany and France wanting greater financial regulation. President Barraoso says both will be required.
"Let us also avoid the false choice between fiscal stimulus or improved regulation," he said. The reality is that we need both and I believe we are seeing convergence within Europe and with our international partners on this."
The European Commission President also called for open and free trade, while warning against protectionism.