Two weeks after a European election marked by a record low turnout, EU leaders are meeting today to vote on a number of key decisions.
The two-day summit in Brussels is intended to show Europeans that their leaders have the recession under control, in a bid to restore faith in an electorate disillusioned with the bloc’s response to the crisis. Top of the agenda is financial reform. The EU wants to tighten a supervisory system that failed to shelter Europe from the crisis. Leaders all agree on the need for new regulations, although London is worried that could weaken its own control of its economy. However, with US president Barack Obama unveiling sweeping reforms of US financial supervision, Britain’s EU partners are confident London will have little choice but to follow suit. Leaders are also due to agree legal guarantees to help persuade Irish voters to back the Lisbon Treaty, which needs to be ratified by all EU states to take effect. These include assurances Dublin’s policies on military neturality, the ban on abortion, and taxation will not be affected. And last but not least, the leaders are expected to support conservative Jose Manuel Barroso’s bid for a second five-year mandate as president of the European Commission. His re-election is seen as providing some continuity in difficult times as the EU fights its way out of recession.