The irony will not have been lost on Timothy Geithner. Despite economic problems of his own back home, the US Treasury Secretary was personally invited to the emergency summit of EU finance ministers in Poland. But then his advice on solving the eurozone debt crisis was largely ignored.
European Central Bank leader Jean Claude Trichet suggested things were worse elsewhere.
“At the end of the year, we will probably post a deficit of public finance at around 4.5 percent of GDP, when in other major, advanced economies it is in the order of ten percent, and we also have an inferior level of outstanding debt.”
There are those who say this was in fact a front to calm the markets. Meanwhile, there is still no agreement on a new tax on financial transactions. But a message of hope.
“The Commission and President Barroso will confirm this, the Commission in a few weeks will come forward with proposals for the basis of a broad-based financial transaction tax to be implemented.It would be easy to put into practice, it would be in my belief practicable and productive and politically right and financially practicable and valuable.” said EU Commissioner for Internal Markets, Michel Barnier.
The disagreement inside the meeting was matched by demonstrations outside. Thousands of trade union activists gathered to call for greater European solidarity in the face of the economic turmoil.
They say the crisis has amplified the problems of unemployment and job security for millions across the continent.