Highlights - Comments from European Union leaders' summit

BRUSSELS Sun Oct 23, 2011 10:17pm BST

Related Topics

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders met on Sunday to try to hammer out a comprehensive plan for tackling the euro zone debt crisis, but a breakthrough is not expected until another summit on Wednesday.

Following are comments after Sunday's talks:

EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT HERMAN VAN ROMPUY

ON EFSF:

"We defined two models (for scaling up the EFSF), and we will now go into details to make all this very concrete... It could even be that we combine the two models and we have a cumulative effect. But the discussion is going on in a positive way.

"(We need) a sufficient firewall against contagion: this means maximising EFSF resources without extending the guarantees underpinning the European Financial Stability Facility... EFSF instruments will be used more flexibly. Several options are being considered."

ON POSSIBLE ECB INVOLVEMENT:

"You have a broad range of options where the ECB is involved, fully in charge and so on. Saying the ECB is not involved in anything, that is too much to say."

ON PRESSURE ON ITALY TO IMPLEMENT REFORMS:

"Between now and Wednesday some members of the European Council will have to convince colleagues that their country is implements the promised measures fully."

ON BANK RECAPITALISATION:

"(On) restoration of confidence in the European banking sector ... everybody agrees we need a coordination scheme to recapitalise the banks and to improve their funding. The agreement of the finance ministers will be finalised in the meeting of the members of the European Council this Wednesday.

"Further work is still needed and that is why we will take the decisions in the follow up euro zone summit."

IMF CHIEF CHRISTINE LAGARDE

"We've done some good work today; it's real progress... we're on for Wednesday. More work to do, but heading in the right direction."

GREEK PRIME MINISTER GEORGE PAPANDREOU

"Our object today is to ease the debt burden that weighs heavily on the backs of the Greek people. This debt is onerous and must lighten for us to breathe again."

"(The EU must show) willingness to find a viable solution for Greece, with the private sector sharing part of the burden, particularly banks."

EARLIER COMMENTS DURING THE DAY

FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY

ON ECB INDEPENDENCE:

"It is a point that we have evoked in detail with the Chancellor. And therefore, it is not up to heads of state or governments to give instructions of any kind. No solution is viable if it doesn't have the support of all the European institutions. It's a team effort."

ON FINANCIAL TRANSACTION TAX PROPOSAL:

"We have reminded all of our European partners of our attachment to the introduction of a tax on financial transactions.

"There is a proposal from the Commission and the whole financial sector must be regulated and called upon to assume its responsibilities as well. Because if the world finds itself in the state it's in, it's because there was of course too much debt, but equally because there was a financial system that didn't obey any rules."

ON THE WAY AHEAD:

"There have been hours and hours of discussions. Work is progressing well on the banks, on the fund and the possibilities of using this fund, the hypotheses are narrowing, and a rather broad agreement is in the process of being drawn up."

ON GREEK SITUATION:

"On the question of Greece, things are progressing. We haven't finished yet. We have until Wednesday."

ON ITALIAN SITUATION:

"With (German Chancellor Angela Merkel), we have met the Italian prime minister, we will also meet the Greek prime minister because a series of measures needs to be taken, but the countries concerned need to be conscious themselves of their responsibilities and the new decisions that they will have to take."

"We trust in the sense of responsibility of all the Italian authorities: political, financial and economic."

ON WEDNESDAY'S SUMMIT:

"Our wish is that on Wednesday, an accord will be found that will alleviate the financial crisis, which will allow us, together, to prepare, with Germany, the G20, where other decisions will have to be taken to regulate globalisation and to allow the world to rediscover the path of global growth."

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL

ON STEPS TO END THE CRISIS:

"We are fighting things that originated in part decades ago. It is not about a crisis of our currency. On Wednesday, it won't the last step that we will take. That's why, when we talk about the future, that we ... probably must strengthen our control mechanisms in the Eurogroup.

"That's why there will be many steps to be taken. In the current discussion, we must on Wednesday take certain steps that belong together and that are complementary. A bank recapitalisation on its own does not make any sense. We must also see at the same time that the problems of Greece are put on a realistic basis and resolved."

ON SITUATION IN ITALY:

"We made it very clear that Italy is a big and important partner for the euro area. We trust that the government will do everything to live up to this role. I believe that we understand this as a conversation among friends. I believe that the necessary measures will be taken.

"Trust will not happen solely through a firewall. Italy has big economic power. But Italy also has a very high overall debt. And this must be reduced in a credible way in the coming years. That is the expectation of Italy."

ON BANK RECAPITALISATION:

"I am very pleased... that we have had progress. On recapitalising banks, the developments have shown that the finance ministers have reached agreement as far as possible. There is a big consensus."

ON NEED TO PURSUE ECONOMIC REFORMS:

"Trust will not be achieved alone through a high firewall. Trust will not happen from a new package for Greece. Trust will only happen when everyone does their homework."

ON CHANGES TO THE EFSF (EUROPEAN FINANCIAL STABILITY FACILITY):

"Today, we are preparing for decisions on Wednesday. This concerns technical details of complicated process such as how the EFSF works, for example.

"Therefore, we must consider all details.

"One should not expect decisions from the euro (leaders')group today but rather on Wednesday. I want to emphasize that so as to make clear what to expect."

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON

ON EU SINGLE MARKET AND NON-EURO COUNTRIES:

"There is a danger, which I've identified and spoken about frankly, which is as the euro zone coming together happens, there is a risk that those countries out of the euro might see... the euro zone members starting to take decisions that impact on the single market."

ON POSSIBLE EU TREATY CHANGE:

"If there is a treaty change proposal that comes forward, that gives Britain, as a non-euro country, the opportunity to say: well in response to this treaty change, what's in the British national interest?

ON WEDNESDAY'S SUMMIT OF EU LEADERS:

"It gives an opportunity for countries -- not just Britain, but also countries like Sweden and Poland pushed very strongly for this too -- gives them an opportunity to have their voices heard."

POLISH PRIME MINISTER DONALD TUSK, WHOSE COUNTRY HOLDS THE ROTATING EU PRESIDENCY

ON THE WAY AHEAD:

"We all have a sense that the crisis in the euro zone is reaching very worrisome levels. We have to be happy that the decision-making progress has gained some momentum, although we can't say we have reached the finish line today. As was expected, euro zone states need a few dozen hours more to make the final decisions."

ON WEDNESDAY'S SUMMIT:

"Following our demands and quite a stormy discussion, the European Council has agreed that President Van Rompuy should convene a meeting of the European Council (of EU leaders) on the same day, before the euro zone meeting.

"This is one of the reasons why I can say that bolstering economic governance in the EU and, exclusively, in the euro zone, will not lead to the creation of a two-speed Europe.

"Today's discussions has shown there is a growing awareness among EU leaders that the two big political necessities -- bolstering economic governance, the possibility of sanctions (for debt sinners), more integration in the euro zone and the integration of all 27 member states -- can go hand-in-hand.

"Slowly we are reaching this political, and also historic consensus, that the integration of the euro zone is not an alternative to the integration of the 27, but that these processes can complement each other."

"Nobody is denying in the coming days we may be deciding the economic fate of Europe. Some of the statements (at Sunday's EU summit) were dramatic. Some people said several countries could disappear, in the economic sense in the coming weeks, if we don't take quick decisions."

EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT HERMAN VAN ROMPUY

ON DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GERMANY AND FRANCE:

"As far as the differences between France and Germany are concerned, I can assure you after numerous meetings... that we are working in a spirit of compromise, in a spirit of having the ambitious package to reassure the rest of the world of our determination to safeguard the financial stability of the euro zone.

"And I am not saying this for sake of argument, or to please, no. I saw a French president and a German chancellor determined to work together with the euro members of the euro zone."

ON ITALY:

"We did meet with (Italian President Silvio Berlusconi) and we've been on the phone several times in recent days...

"I would say that we were preparing for Wednesday's meeting rather than today's.

"We asked for reassurances regarding the courageous measures that have been taken and we asked for them to be put into effect and also for reforms.

"Reforms on the labor market, public enterprise, privatisation, the judicial system, combating fiscal fraud and we wanted to make sure that everything will be implemented in time."

"Clearly we are calling for a major effort to be made by the Italian authorities and I believe that they are willing to do that."

ON EU TREATIES AND ECONOMIC CONVERGENCE:

Measures include "exploring the possibility of limited treaty changes".

"We need the agreement of the 27 before we can decide on a treaty change.

"'Limited' means that there will not be a general overhaul of the institutional architecture we find in the Lisbon Treaty. That's the meaning of 'limited'."

"The aim is economic convergence and if we need treaty changes in a limited way that is never taboo, but it's not the aim."

EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JOSE MANUEL BARROSO

ASKED IF OTHER COUNTRIES SHOULD HELP EUROPE:

"The G20 should ensure that the IMF has adequate resources to fulfil its systemic responsibilities and should explore possible contributions to the IMF from countries with a large external surplus... So those countries that have a large external surplus should contribute for the common good and for global stability."

ON THE WAY AHEAD:

"We will still have a lot of work. I think we are in a good situation to make progress so that we can finalize our work on Wednesday -- namely, the agreements on Greece, on banks, on leveraging the EFSF (European Financial Stability facility) and governance."

(Reporting by Daniel Flynn, Julien Toyer, Ilona Wissenbach, John O'Donnell, David Brunnstrom, Robin Emmott, Barbara Lewis and Matt Falloon in Brussels and James Regan in Paris)

FILED UNDER: