EU summit turns from financial crisis to real economy

17th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

During their two-day summit in Brussels, EU leaders also achieved a difficult compromise on climate change, endorsed a European-wide immigration pact and hardened their stance toward Russia.

Brussels -- After forging a common response to Europe's financial crisis, European Union leaders vowed Thursday to save jobs and shelter industry from a looming recession.

During their two-day summit in Brussels, EU leaders also achieved a difficult compromise on climate change, endorsed a European-wide immigration pact and hardened their stance toward Russia by insisting that its pullout from Georgia is not enough to merit the re-opening of talks on a partnership deal.

A visibly fatigued French President Nicolas Sarkozy received praise from all quarters for chairing difficult talks in Brussels.

"He showed great energy and great determination," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. "In that way, we were able to find consensus."

The other star of the summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, called Sarkozy a brilliant chairman.

The emphasis of discussions during the second day of the talks in Brussels shifted from finance to what some refer to as "the real economy."

In their council conclusions, leaders vowed to "take the necessary steps to react to the slowdown in demand and the contraction in investment, and in particular to support European industry."

Sarkozy made an explicit reference to the European car industry as being worthy of support as it seeks to adapt to the EU's demands for cleaner vehicles.

He also called on EU governments to forge a common economic policy, saying: "If we can find a coordinated response to the financial crisis, why not find a coordinated economic policy?"

At the same time, leaders turned their wrath on highly paid banking executives, who are seen as being at least partly responsible for the collapse of global credit.

"The real performance of company executives should be reflected in their remuneration, including their severance pay, which should be in line with their actual contribution to the success of the company," leaders said.

Europe's proposed solutions to the financial crisis are now expected to be discussed with US President George W. Bush on Saturday and with Group of Eight and Asian leaders in a special summit, which Sarkozy said he hoped would take place in November.

On climate change, Sarkozy avoided a damaging rupture with central and Eastern European states by pledging to take the "specific situations" of their economies into account when negotiating a final deal on greenhouse gas emission cuts.

But while maintaining a December deadline for a final agreement to be reached, the presidency was expected to face a tough time trying to obtain EU member states' consent at the year-end summit.

"I see here a lot of work left for the presidency and commission," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Leaders also hardened their common stance toward Russia by saying its withdrawal from core Georgia was not a sufficient reason to re-open talks on a cooperation deal with Moscow.

"All 27 EU member states welcome the withdrawals, while recognizing that they do not completely finish Russia's commitment under the peace plan of Aug. 12," said British Foreign Minister David Miliband.

And in a concession to the union's smallest state, Malta, leaders acknowledged that the burden of asylum-seekers entering the bloc should be shared out among member states.

The reference to the difficulties facing the Mediterranean island was contained in an annex to a European Pact on Immigration and Asylum that seeks to improve the management of legal immigration into the EU and tighten controls on illegal immigrants.

-- Nicholas Rigillo and Ben Nimmo/DPA/Expatica

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