EU leaders said they planned to focus on economic growth as a key two-day summit in Brussels got underway on Thursday.
Analysts said the bloc’s top priority will be to balance budget austerity while looking for ways to reverse unemployment.
25 of the 27 members will sign the German-driven fiscal compact treaty on Friday to enforce EU deficit-cutting and debt reduction rules more strictly.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel played up the need for further integration claiming that there were “too many areas where Europe can’t compete with the best at the international level and we must change that.”
Some economists warn that without a return to growth soon, several European countries risk entering the same spiral of depression as Greece.
Officials from several countries think shaking up the European energy market and boosting the digital economy will help boost employment.
Unemployment in the 17-nation euro zone hit a euro-era record in January, according to figures from Eurostat.