German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared on Monday to have succeeded in pushing through her plan to force EU countries to adopt stricter budget discipline.
At a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, the 26 member states – excluding the UK – were expected to sign off on a plan to severely restrict public sector deficits.
Interviewed on arrival, leaders said the summit would also focus on how to get Europe back on a path towards economic growth.
“As soon as the council accepts that Europe has no choice but to consolidate its public finances, I hope that efforts will be directed towards more growth and jobs,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg.
Although EU officials have set aside 20 billion euros for new job creation, reports suggested that uncertainty remained about how the money would be spent.
Despite the rhetoric on growth, debate over strengthening the eurozone’s financial defences was expected to dominate the talks, including a 500 billion euro permanent rescue fund.
It’s believed Greece will not be a major priority at the summit, despite continuing worries that Athens may run out of cash in February.
There were unconfirmed reports that the issue will top the agenda at a special summit next month.