G20 leaders have ended their summit in Cannes after two days dominated by Greek turmoil and the threat to the euro zone and beyond.
Many big issues have been put to one side. Leaders vowed to boost the resources of the International Monetary Fund. But no countries outside the euro zone have agreed to contribute to its bailout fund.
Barack Obama found a positive way to tell Europe to sort out its debt crisis.
“Events in Greece over the past 24 hours have underscored the importance of implementing the plan, fully and as quickly as possible,” said the US president. “I am confident that Europe has the capacity to meet this challenge. I know it isn’t easy, but what is absolutely critical – and what the world looks for in moments such as this – is action.”
Italy, in global markets’ sights should Greece impode, has been placed under IMF supervision. Nicolas Sarkozy praised the country for moves taken to balance its budget.
The French president said several countries backed the idea of a tax on financial transactions.
“Morally we consider it absolutely essential that financial players who led the world into the mistakes that we’ve experienced, will be led to contribute financially towards repairing the damage that’s been done,” he said.
He added that a plan would go before European leaders next year, and said President Obama had recognised the idea’s merits in principle.
This represents some progress for Sarkozy, but the G20’s achievements fall short of initial expectations.
“New ideas for a new world,” said our correspondent in Cannes, Stefan Grobe. “The French presidency of the G20 had ambitious aims. In the end few of those aims were implemented. The agenda was overshadowed by old problems. And then there was China’s greater influence – at the expense of the United States. We will see what the world will look like at the next G20 summit, in 2012 in Mexico.”