How EU leaders put a brave face on bad news
Roundup of what was said at the 18 summits held since the eurozone crisis erupted in late 2009
Since the eurozone crisis erupted in late 2009, there have been 18 Brussels summits. Here is what was said after the main gatherings:
February 11 2010 Greek prime minister George Papandreou: “We are willing to take all the reforms that are necessary to change the way the public sector is working in Greece.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
“We know our responsibility for the stability of the euro zone and we belong together. Rules have to be respected, however. Greece did not ask us for any money today.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy:
“We have delivered a very clear political signal: Greece is part of the European Union, of the euro zone, and we will support it.”
March 25-26 2010 Announcing plans for a bailout, then ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet says: “I think it’s a workable solution. I am confident the mechanism decided today will normally not need to be activated and that Greece will progressively regain the confidence of the market.”Portugese Prime Minister Jose Socrates -
“We hope it will not be necessary, because speculation is based on doubt and this accord gives some certainty to the market.”
“It is not about paying Greece’s debt but giving a signal that we are there to support them if necessary.”
Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis -
On help for Greece:
“Certainly I would expect a decision and it seems that the ideas are going towards having a package of bilateral loans and IMF loans. Bilateral loans as an instrument do not contradict the (EU) treaty so it is also sound from a legal point of view.”
How soon could it be?
“It has to be relatively quick. It is a matter of weeks, I would say.”
May 7 2010 Greece accepts a €110bn loan. EU monetary affairs commissioner, Olli Rehn, says the agreement “proves that we shall defend the euro whatever it takes. We are facing such exceptional circumstances today and the mechanism and the mechanism will stay in place as long as needed to safeguard financial stability.”. Finnish leader Matti Vanhanen says: “If the domino effect begins, no economy is safe.””We have asked the commission and the council to strictly enforce the (budget) recommendations addressed to member states,” leaders said in a joint statement.
June 17 2010 “I think we should encourage Spain that it is on the right track,” says Angela Merkel.
September 17th Summit:
Thursday’s European Union summit, which was meant to have focused on how the bloc could best engage with the outside world, was overshadowed by France’s expulsion of members of the Roma community. President Nicolas Sarkozy maintained, “Our argument is sound.”
October 27th-28th Summit:
“It is true that a Franco-German agreement is not everything in Europe. But without a Franco-German agreement, not much is possible,” Merkel said, German chancellor.
“Compared to the current situation,” European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told a press conference, “sanctions [on states that do not keep deficits in check] will kick in earlier and progressively. Public debt will be taken more into account alongside the deficit criteria. Sanctions will be possible before the 3-percent annual deficit is reached if not enough preventive action is taken.”
December 16 2010 Leaders agree to set up a permanent rescue fund, the European stability mechanism (ESM) after weeks of wrangling over the future of the euro, which also saw Ireland take a €65bn bailout. Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, says: “The euro area leaders also underlined that we have a joint economic strategy and a political will to do whatever is required to ensure the eurozone’s stability.”German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after the summit, said the ESM was an expression of all-round solidarity. She also said 2011 will be a year of reform for a good number of euro zone countries.
4 Feb 2011 The one-day summit accepts Europe is not on track to meet its target for reducing energy use by 20% by 2020.
The post-summit accord says: “The EU and its member states will promote investment in renewables and safe and sustainable low carbon technologies.”
Greenpeace, the leading environmental group, says it is “disappointed there was no progress on binding energy efficiency targets ‘for now’, despite common agreement that the EU is failing in its ambitions”.
11 March 2011 The summit takes a surreal turn when French president Nicolas Sarkozy and UK prime minister David Cameron leave the other 25 EU leaders hanging around while they discus options against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
24-25 March 2011 A summit to finalise Germany and France’s six-point solution to the euro crisis is derailed by the fall of the Portuguese government.
The Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, says he does not fear contagion from Portugal despite their close economic ties.
Merkel says: “This is a comprehensive package which I think is a big step forward. Whether it will be sufficient, only time will tell.”
June 23-24 2011 EU leaders agree the outline of a fresh €120bn bailout subject to more austerity, sending stock markets soaring. Eurogroup boss Jean-Claude Juncker urges Athens to meet its commitment. “All conditions must be met,” he says. “You can’t let anyone believe there is a plan B. If Greece does what it has to do, we will do what we have to do.”
21 July 2011 More details emerge of a further Greek bailout. Sarkozy hails it as a “historic moment”.
26 October 2011 Private sector involvement in the latest bailout is agreed. Charles Dallara, director of the Institute of International Finance, which represented the private sector in the talks, says: “We look forward to working with the Greek and European authorities to translate this framework into a concrete agreement that can deliver an early reduction in Greece’s debt and place it squarely on a path toward debt sustainability.”
8-9 -World Bank President Robert Zoellick said “It’s a very welcome and an important step because we have seen the ripple effects.”
-“I compliment the leaders of the European Union for facing and making difficult decisions. Of course problems like this can’t be solved by waving a magic wand, and the implementation of the three core elements will require follow through to ensure that with the market reactions, the banks can function more effectively and to ensure that euro zone countries are able to roll over their debt.”
December 2011 Cameron vetoes EU-wide treaty changes, saying they are not in Britain’s interests, “so I didn’t sign up to it”. “This is a breakthrough to a union of stability,” says Merkel. “We will use the crisis as a chance for a new beginning.”
“It’s going to be the basis for a good fiscal compact and more discipline in economic policy,” says Mario Draghi, new boss of the ECB.
“It was a tough decision but the right one,” said the prime minister. -Boris Johnson said: “David Cameron has played a blinder and he’s done the only thing that it was really open for him to do… I understand the argument in favour of these measures because everybody’s desperate to save the euro, but they would just mean a quite unacceptable loss of national sovereignty.” -Mr Hague said the move was “very sensible” and signing up would have meant a loss of national sovereignty.
1 March 2012 Fiscal pact agreed in December is signed, except by the UK. Van Rompuy says: “This stronger self-constraint by each and every one of you as regards debts and deficits is important in itself. It helps prevent a repetition of the sovereign debt crisis. It will thus also reinforce trust among member states, which is politically important as well.” Leaders of eurozone countries agreed to allocate funds faster for the EU permanent bailout fund.
Compiled by Emily Talbut and Joe Allen