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Time to move on from euro crisis: Portuguese president

Published on 11/02/2012

European leaders need to move on from the current focus on the eurozone financial crisis and take aim at other issues important to the region, Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva said Saturday.

“It is important for the eurozone to get rid of the word ‘crisis’ so that the European Union can give visibility to other issues like climate change, the Doha negotiations, innovation and energy security,” Silva told reporters in Helsinki.

Silva was one of seven European presidents meeting with outgoing Finnish President Tarja Halonen in Helsinki for two days of discussions on key European issues.

The European Union has already taken a number of measures aimed at tackling the sovereign debt crisis, Silva noted, listing as examples increased firepower for the European Stability Mechanism and access to greater liquidity for European banks via the European Central Bank.

Even the situation in Greece — the epicentre of the crisis — is showing signs of responding to treatment, the president observed, adding “this will be positive for Portugal because it will prevent contagion.”

On Saturday the Greek cabinet approved tough austerity measures demanded by the EU and IMF creditors after the prime minister warned that a failed debt deal and default would spark “uncontrolled chaos”.

Eurozone leaders will meet Wednesday to consider the progress in Athens.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano pointed out meanwhile that Europe is already looking beyond the crisis, with meetings of the European Council scheduled for March expected to shift the focus away from the debt crisis to issues such as growth.

“It’s clear that we must combine fiscal consolidation with growth,” Napolitano said, adding: “Europe needs a new wave of competitive and sustainable growth.”