EU leaders have arrived for a two-day summit in Brussels, more openly divided than at any time since the euro crisis began in early 2010.
It is the 20th such meeting since then, giving those in charge a reputation for failing to match their talk with the sort of decisive action needed to find a solution.
New kid on the block, French President Francois Hollande, is hoping to make a difference.
“I have come here so that growth will be at the heart of our commitments,” Hollande told reporters, as he headed into the talks. “I hope decisions will be made that will stimulate extra activity in countries that really need it and I have come so that very quick solutions can be found to support those countries that are most in difficulty with the markets even though they have made considerable efforts.”
After a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, Hollande says Paris and Berlin are now in broad agreement on measures to stimulate growth.
“Today on the first day, we will speak, above all, about the pact for growth and employment,” Merkel told journalists in Brussels, just before talks began. “We have worked out a good programme, particularly on investment in the future and especially aimed at helping young people improve their chances of getting a job.”
However the French and German leaders are still at odds over eurobonds, with Merkel unwilling to back other countries’ debts. Struggling Spain and Italy, meanwhile, are pleading for emergency action to bring down their spiralling borrowing costs.
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