Major economic stimulus and climate change pacts are in play for the European Union at its leaders’ summit, now underway in Brussels.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has had a highly-charged six months at the head of the rotating EU presidency. Before the summit is through, he will try to bridge a deepening rift over Berlin’s reluctance to spend more to revive the EU’s economy. Prime Minister Brian Cowen is expected to clarify Dublin’s intentions on Ireland’s way forward with the Lisbon Treaty on reform of the EU’s institutions. The other leaders have, in principle, backed concessions. Chancellor Angela Merkel before the summit spoke of Germany’s ‘responsibility as Europe’s biggest economy,’ and looking ‘at what we may have to do.’ Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Italy is prepared to veto a carbon emissions deal if it does not get concessions. He said an economic crisis was not the best time for making these decisions.The bloc’s leaders want to agree on a 200-billion-euro anti-recession package. Germany’s finance minister Peer Steinbrück has singled out British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for criticism, saying policy proposals for multi-billion-euro deficit spending were “breathtaking and depressing”.