The sixth and last EU leader’s summit of 2012 was held just hours after finance ministers made significant progress on proposals for banking union within the eurozone.
Although they did not say exactly when, the leaders did commit to pushing ahead with that agenda by introducing a single supervisory mechanism to deal with problems in the banking sector.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: “For the SSM to be more effective, we decided tonight that when the SSM is in place, a single resolution mechanism will be required with the necessary power to ensure that any bank in participating member states can be resolved with the appropriate tools”.
So essentially a commitment to centralised supervision of eurozone banks, and one that German chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly happy with.
That decision, along with the formal agreement to release a delayed instalment of 34bn euros to Greece, gave the leaders two positive developments to point towards after a year of being accused of crisis management.
One cloud on the horizon however was Italy, whose technocrat leader Mario Monti is threatening to resign after Silvio Berluscon’s party withdrew support for his austerity policies.