Support seems to have increased for spending five billion euros of European funds on energy and key technology projects to revive the economy. What projects and where to draw the funding from have been under discussion at foreign ministers’ talks in Brussels.
However, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier said more work remained to be done before a formal EU summit scheduled for March 19-20. Steinmeier said: “It’s not the last general meeting before the Council. By then I think there’ll be an agreement in principle. But the actual list of projects does still need more discussion.” Some of the newer and poorer EU member states are concerned about the richer countries’ capacity to shield their banks and industries through spending. Current EU presiding nation the Czech Republic is stressing that responses to the crisis need better coordination. Prague has been the leading voice in warning that protectionism could spoil efforts to present a united front. An informal summit to discuss solidarity measures is planned for this Sunday. It comes amid rising concern that the crisis in central and eastern Europe – with economic activity precariously linked to fragile banks – could impact further on western Europe.