Informal EU summit on growth possible before June
26.04.12 @ 18:10
BRUSSELS - EU leaders may meet for a special summit dedicated to growth before a regular meeting at the end of June, Council chief Herman Van Rompuy said on Thursday (26 April), as several Prime Ministers stressed the need to shift the focus away from austerity.
Picking up on the calls made by mostly by centre-left EU politicians, Van Rompuy told an audience at a business conference in Brussels that this was "the highest priority for European leaders."
"We will be meeting again in June within the European Council to take important decisions and I do not exclude convening an informal leaders’ dinner at an earlier date for an open exchange of views on how best to prepare matters for June," he said, in reference to a planned 28 June summit.
EU leaders have already met at the end of January to adopt non-binding conclusions on "growth-friendly consolidation" and "job-friendly growth" and in March to at a regular summit also dedicated to growth and jobs.
Noting there was no simple answer to get the eurozone back to growth, Van Rompuy said calls for state stimulus are "schizophrenic."
Rather, people had to take up job offers that were out there. "There are 2 million job vacancies in the EU. I presume not for 2 million Albert Einsteins. Skills are needed at all levels," he noted.
Van Rompuy said countries should increase the European Investment Bank's capital so it can lend more to businesses. But he admitted there was only so much policymakers can do to spur growth.
"Structural reforms ... will make a difference over time," Van Rompuy said. "We must tell the truth. There are no magic formulas, reforms take time and so does their impact on jobs and growth."
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, also present at the conference, agreed that Keynesian measures - the state spending more to boost growth - are not the answer. "It would produce no good for Europe's economy, or for national economies for that matter," he said.
The day before, both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said growth was important but it should not be achieved by extra spending, saying current budget-cutting measures should stay in place.
But Belgium's Socialist Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo picked up on the "growth compact" idea proposed by Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate for the French presidency, saying Europe had to "find new instruments for growth."
Di Rupo talked of "revolutionising mentalities" and pushing for more "entrepreneurial risk-taking" in Europe. "We have to mobilise all our intelligence to put Europe back on track to prosperity," he said.