March 24, 2011 / 5:05 PM / 8 years ago

Highlights - EU leaders discuss European economy, Libya

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU leaders met on Thursday for talks on the European economy, with a focus on the fate of Portugal after the resignation of its prime minister and with intense pressure on Lisbon to seek financial help.

Following are some comments from the talks:

ON PACT FOR THE EURO:

“We decided a comprehensive package of economic measures.”

“We adopted the ‘euro plus pact’. It will provide a new quality of economic coordination.”

ON EUROPEAN STABILITY MECHANISM:

“We reconfirmed the operational features of the permanent stability mechanism. We will make sure that 500 billion euros is available with AAA status. We have agreed to ensure that a temporary facility has an effective lending capacity of 440 billion euros. It will be in place in June.”

ON SANCTIONS AGAINST LIBYA:

“From the beginning of the crisis, the European Union was at the forefront imposing tough sanctions. Today we decided that we are ready to adopt further sanctions, including measures to ensure that oil and gas revenues do not reach the Gaddafi regime. Member states will ask the United Nations to do the same.”

EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE TRICHET

ON PORTUGAL, BANKING STRESS TESTS:

“I said that it was capital that Portugal would confirm the plan that had been designed, and approved by the Commission in liaison with the ECB, and also has been approved by the European Council at the level of the heads of the euro area on the 11th of this month.

“That was something that I said. I mentioned the importance of the stress tests and confirmed how important it was to have a solid framework in line with the state aid rules for the provision of government support if and where needed.”

ON ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE:

“I also stressed the fact that the euro plus pact was proof that governments were standing ready to go further in governance, that the pact involves a special effort beyond what already exists and includes concrete commitments and actions that are more ambitious than what has already been agreed upon.

“And therefore I consider it would be in line with this will expressed by governments, that the legislation which is presently examined by the (European) Parliament would be improved by comparison with what was the previous position of governments. I have to say that as far as I understand it is also the position of the Parliament, that this text could be improved.”

PORTUGUESE PRIME MINISTER JOSE SOCRATES

“My only concern today is to defend Portugal, defend the common currency and defend the European project.”

“I won’t make any statement on the internal situation in Portugal.”

ON SITUATION IN PORTUGAL:

“We will deal with the situation in Portugal. I can only repeat that the Portuguese prime minister put forward a very ambitious and very demanding reform programme at the start of March... All those in Portugal with responsibility or who will have responsibility should come out in favour of the goals of this programme so that the confidence of markets can grow.”

ON IRISH BANKING STRESS TESTS:

“The stress tests for the banks will not be completed until next week. I think it’s much more important to be absolutely clear about the extent of the liabilities before we make any further discussions or negotiations. So from that point of view I have agreed (with EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy) that I will come back ... when the extent of the stress tests are actually known.”

“We have to wait and see what they actually do show. I’ve heard figures bandied about at an extreme level and obviously I much prefer to see the actual extent of the bank liabilities.”

GREEK PRIME MINISTER GEORGE PAPANDREOU

“The challenge now is that Europe as a whole sends a very strong and convincing message to the financial markets that it is supporting a stable euro and is supporting all euro zone countries.”

DUTCH PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE

ON PORTUGUESE SITUATION AFTER PRIME MINISTER’S RESIGNATION: “This is bad news.”

ON WHETHER A PORTUGUESE BAILOUT IS UNAVOIDABLE:

“If you want a bailout, then you need first to show that you are solving your problems, that you are bringing your debt under control, that your public finances are in order... So it is very disappointing that yesterday the government that put forward a tough package has fallen.”

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