16th Oct 2021


This WEEK in the European Union

With EU institutions on reduced activities amid the traditional end-of-October break next week, all eyes and most of the action will be focussed on the G20 meeting in Cannes.

The meeting on 3 and 4 October, hosted by France's Nicolas Sarkozy, comes just days after the EU held an emergency summit to deal with the eurozone crisis.

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  • Nicolas Sarkozy is keen to make the G20 summit under his watch one that counts (Photo:

While there was headline agreement on the major issues on the table - bank recapitalisation, beefing up the bail-out fund and how much of a loss private investors in Greek debt would have to take - many of the details still have to be worked out.

Markets, initially euphoric in their reaction, came down to earth again one day after the deal. International leaders, who have been piling the pressure on their eurozone counterparts, are also set to question the solidity of the agreement.

Writing in Friday's Financial Times, US President Barack Obama characterised the deal as a "critical foundation" upon which to build and called for a "credible firewall" to stop the crisis spreading.

EU finance ministers are not scheduled to meet until 8 November to examine technical aspects of the grand bargain, however.

The G20 meeting will also put major European leaders in the same room as Chinese President Hu Jintao with speculation rife about the financial role Beijing could play in boosting the eurozone's rescue fund.

China has so far indicated a willingness to help out but has yet to make its move.

Growth is the main topic on the G20 agenda with several EU economies either showing low growth or stagnating, including host country France but also Europe's economic powerhouse Germany. Both Berlin and Paris have recently lowered their expected growth rate for next year to 1 percent, down from 1.8 and 1.75 percent, respectively.

Concerns about poor economic output have increased as the continent introduces a wave of austerity measures to try and cut budget deficits, resulting in job losses. Meanwhile, banks are not lending to small businesses, further hampering grassroots growth.

Sarkozy, doing poorly in the polls ahead of next year's election, is keen to make the G20 summit a triumph.

He has indicated he wants Cannes to be a landmark meeting, similar to those in 2008 and 2009, which were seen as events of consequence in global attempts to tackle the crisis.

Also up for discussion are boosting the resources of the International Monetary Fund, combating commodity price volatility, and a financial transactions tax. This last is being strongly pushed by France and Germany but has been greeted with less enthusiasm elsewhere, notably the UK.


The EUobserver website will not be updated on Monday and Tuesday, 31 October and 1 November.

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