Europe’s banks will be taxed and made to make their finances public. The leaders of the 27 EU countries emerged from their one-day summit in Brussels with that message and a call for the EU – and not a new eurozone splinter group – to govern Europe’s economies.
It was a day for giving the impression of confidence.
After three summits dominated by the Greek debt crisis, leaders needed to calm investors’ fears. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, the leader of the leaders, even tried an attempt at humour, telling the group:
“There is no crisis, we are now at 10.30, there is no crisis!”
A new 10-year strategy for creating jobs and growth was approved.
It was decided that banks’ “stress tests” to identify weakness in their balance books would be published from July.
And the EU would try to get the G20 to agree to its bank levy, to take the burden of future crises off the taxpayer’s shoulders. On that Europe at least is agreed.
Asked if he had a strategy to convince reluctant G20 members to go along with the levy, Van Rompuy said:
“We have a common position, all the European countries, and we will try to convince our partners but we also implicitly agreed that if there is no consensus in the G20, we go forward, we go forward.
Europe gave no details of what exactly the bank levy entails and it has just 10 days before it pitches the plan to the world’s economic heavyweights in Toronto.
And as our Brussels correspondant Sergio Cantone reports, that may not be long enough:
“The strategy of pushing the message that banks will also contribute to calming the economic crisis, could work before the G20 meeting. But some EU countries could be tempted to abandon the proposal if it is rejected by some of the G20 members.”