EU must agree 'vigorous' response at summit: Barroso

19th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

European leaders must agree a "vigorous" response to protect Spain at a summit this weekend, the head of the EU executive said Wednesday as France and Germany differ on how ambitious they need to be.

Sunday's summit must deliver "a vigorous response to give guarantees to all countries, notably Spain," European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said as he set out ideas for boosting growth across the European Union over the next decade.

"We are at a crucial moment," Barroso said, "which can be decisive for the EU," echoing calls by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whereas Germany has been careful to downplay expectations of agreements on a host of different challenges.

At the summit leaders are being called on to agree financial aid for Greece, a recapitalisation of banks, a leveraging up of the European rescue fund, tightened cross-border governance and measures to boost growth.

On the last of these, Barroso said the Commission identified 15 billion euros ($20.7 billion) of structural EU funds allocated to Greece that have not been used.

He proposed "using these structural funds as guarantees for banks lending to the economy," in an innovation to unlock credit so that "investment can come back."

He will also recommend using other funds destined for social cohesion to find "quick answers" to high youth unemployment, for instance funding a raft of new apprenticeships.

© 2011 AFP

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