Leaders of the 27 EU countries are tucking into a one-day summit centred on tackling public debt and getting back to economic growth.
Europe’s finances remain in a fragile state, but after three summits dominated by the Greek debt crisis, there was a lighter mood around the table early on. A point not lost on the Council president. Herman Van Rompuy said:
“It will be the first normal Council since my entry into office; there is no crisis, we are now at 10.30, and there is no crisis.”
Leaders are expected to approve the “Europe 2020” strategy to stimulate jobs and growth. And while they broadly agree on the need for tighter economic government, there are differences over how to go about it.
Making his EU summit debut is the new British Prime Minister, who appeared determined to make a good first impression.
After breakfast talks with the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, David Cameron said:
“We do have a very strong and positive agenda, an agenda about dealing with deficits as we are doing in our own country, and we’ll be taking further action next week in our budget, and a very positive agenda in terms of Europe on the world stage, in terms of making sure we have a strong package of sanctions against Iran, something that is going to be dealt with today and we believe is incredibly important.”
If he seemed keen to bring up Iran, Cameron faces more divisive issues such as greater EU oversight of member states’ budgets, something London is reluctant to agree to.