EU leaders put on a united front for the cameras in Brussels. But behind the scenes, this is one of the most testing times the bloc has ever known.
They have wound up what has been described as a “frustrating” summit in the Belgian capital – overshadowed, naturally, by the Greek debt crisis.
“On Greece, we have once again shown that we find agreement when agreement is needed. It was important because we have shown that our new way of dealing with the European economy is working” said European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso.
Leaders urged Greece to back more cuts in a vote next week in order to get the next instalment of its EU-IMF bailout.
The Greek prime minister faces the daunting task of rallying cross-party support. “The support that was given by my fellow European leaders, was given because they have recognised not only my personal efforts, I would say they have recognised the efforts of the Greek people, I’d say the sacrifices of the Greek people, and that is stated in so many words in the European Council conclusions. This is a vote of confidence from our fellow partners in the European Union,” George Papandreou told reporters.
Everything hinges on the austerity vote in the Greek parliament, which is due on June 29 and 30. If this results in a yes – then Greece gets its next instalment from the EU and IMF.
If no – then the country will default on its debt.