Onwards and upwards at the EU summit | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 03.03.2012
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Onwards and upwards at the EU summit

The EU's spring summit was all about the bloc's economic policies going forward. Leaders were keen to demonstrate that they can act decisively in a crisis.

Unlike many before it, Friday's summit concluded without tough negotiations into the early hours of the morning. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was visibly pleased: "We're about to draw a line," he said, referring to the European debt crisis that has been dominating the agenda for so long, "and now we have to do all we can to overcome it," Sarkozy added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was more cautious. "The situation is a bit calmer now, but the crisis has by no means been overcome," she said. Just because there were no seemingly endless talks this time, does not mean everything has gone back to normal, she said.

Tangible results

But Merkel, too, was keen to note the concrete measures which had been decided. She emphasized the fiscal pact and the European rescue fund, which are designed to work hand in hand. "In future, in order to get help from the European rescue fund, members will have to demonstrate that they can stick to the conditions set by the fiscal pact," Merkel said.

Focus on the economy

Now, Merkel said, the EU must focus on measures to boost growth and employment. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso chimed in with Merkel's emphasis on the fiscal pact.

"By making strengthening fiscal discipline and convergence binding, member states will show that they are moving from a currency union towards a true economic union," he said.

The fiscal pact, he said, showed that the euro was a reality that cannot be changed and an important step towards European integration.

Third rescue package a possibility

The perennial topic that is Greece, of course, also featured in this summit. On Thursday, member states had approved the reform efforts of the Greek government, paving the way for the second rescue package to wing its way to Athens.

And in case that will not be sufficient, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite announced that "if, in future, we need a third rescue package, we will get a third package."

Bringing Assad to book

Syriawas another hot topic at the summit. British Prime Minister David Cameron said that evidence should be gathered to bring Assad and others responsible for the violence, to account.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron

Cameron spoke of 'Day of reckoning' for Assad

"We will make sure, as we did in Serbia, that there is a day of reckoning for those who are responsible," he said.

All told, there seemed to be a sense of optimism at being able to communicate more positive than negative news. Asked by a journalist if it made for a pleasant change to be able to go to bed at a reasonable time rather than negotiate into the small hours, Merkel said that she had in fact been up until midnight this time too - but "it could have been worse," she said.

Author: Daphne Grathwohl / ng
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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