Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'Macron-economy' pun already worn out

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War

Read more

FOCUS

Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Terrorist ransoms: Should governments pay up for hostages?

Read more

ENCORE!

Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche star in 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Read more

WEB NEWS

India: journalist launches "Rice Bucket Challenge"

Read more

WEB NEWS

Russian aid convoy: Mission accomplished?

Read more

WEB NEWS

Actor Orlando Jones lauches 'Bullet Bucket Challenge'

Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

  • French unemployment rises 0.8% in July to record high

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande puts young ex-banker in top economy post

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    Read more

  • Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

    Read more

  • Airstrikes and Assad - Obama’s military conundrum in Syria

    Read more

  • IMF’s Lagarde investigated in French corruption case

    Read more

  • American journalist held captive in Syria arrives in US

    Read more

  • In pictures: The ministers in France's new government

    Read more

  • 'Lasting' ceasefire agreed for Gaza, Abbas says

    Read more

  • Far-right ‘Russian Jihad’ fighters cross into Ukraine

    Read more

  • Rebels 'shoot down' UN helicopter in South Sudan

    Read more

  • Air France pilots threaten September strike

    Read more

Europe

EU states sign fiscal treaty without UK and Czechs

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-03-02

The leaders of 25 EU countries have signed a new treaty they hope will prevent the 17 eurozone nations balance their books and alleviate the currency bloc's crippling debt crisis. The treaty was not signed by the UK or the Czech Republic.

AFP - EU leaders signed a new treaty to control budgets on Friday, vowing to turn the corner on the eurozone debt crisis, but new public deficit strains soured the event.

Leaders from 25 of the bloc's 27 nations -- apart from the Czech Republic and Britain -- signed the treaty at a ceremony in Brussels on the second day of a summit aiming to shift the focus from crisis management to jobs and growth.

The treaty is "a strong signal that we are drawing lessons from the crisis and that we are focusing on the future of a politically united Europe," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the main architect of the pact.

The countries signed up to a promise to anchor in their constitutions -- if possible -- rules to stop their public deficits and debt spiralling out of control in the way that led to the eurozone crisis.

The new treaty is "an important step in reinforcing the confidence in our economic and monetary union" and a "major step towards responsibility", said EU president Herman Van Rompuy as he invited leaders to sign the document.

But amid the relief at progress made to overcome the crisis, new fiscal problems in Spain and the Netherlands -- one of the most outspoken critics of Greece's fiscal recklessness -- showed that dangers still lurk.

The Netherlands announced that its "provisional" public 2012 deficit would rise to 4.5 percent of gross domestic product from 4.1 percent forecast before, sparking a pointed rebuke from the European Commission.

"We think that the Netherlands is one country that has been very vocal when supporting the reinforcement of our fiscal surveillance rules," said European Commission economy spokesman Amadeu Altafaj.

And Spain, at the centre of the debt crisis with soaring borrowing costs that have since receded, had to explain why the country's 2011 public deficit estimate grew to 8.5 percent of GDP from a previous forecast of 6.0 percent.

"Spain will fulfill its commitments regarding budget cuts, taking into account the fact that circumstances have changed," Finance Minister Luis de Guindos told reporters.

But, he added, "given the changed circumstances, it is foreseen that a process of negotiations will begin now. And here Spain is absolutely loyal and transparent regarding (fiscal) consolidation."

Analysts have warned that renewed tensions over budgets could lead to a reawakening of uncertainty on the financial markets.

"We think there will be a certain, controllable, uncertainty on the markets over the theme of public deficits," said Gilles Moec, an economist at Deutsche Bank.

But despite the new concerns, a more relaxed set of leaders stressed the fact that for the first time for more than a year, the gathering was not billed as a crisis summit, as financial markets remain calm for now.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, prime minister of Denmark, the current head of the EU, said: "for the first time in many, many months, this is not a crisis summit."

"We have tried to deal with the past and are now looking into the future and ... discussing how we create more growth and new jobs for Europe," she told reporters on her way into the meeting.

"It's the first normal summit for a couple of years," said Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen.

In another "normal" development at a summit, Britain found itself at loggerheads with some of its larger partners, when a strategy for growth pushed by London received only limited welcome.

Several of the measures proposed by Britain and 11 others, such as a new focus on trade with the United States, Russia and China, were not incorporated into earlier drafts of leaders' statement, apparently leaving Prime Minister David Cameron furious.

An EU source said there had been "a bit of an issue" and that Cameron and other signatories were "upset".
 

Date created : 2012-03-02

  • EUROZONE

    Eurozone agrees to first instalment of Greek bailout

    Read more

  • EUROZONE

    Eurozone jobless rate hits new high ahead of EU talks

    Read more

  • GREECE

    Eurozone agrees second €130bn Greek bailout

    Read more

COMMENT(S)