At the end of a bruising year for the European Union, the final summit of 2012 was tinged with a sense of optimism.
Greece got the latest slice of bailout cash and
Union leaders agreed to rubber stamp the finance ministers’ decision to hand the role of banking watchdog to the ECB.
That was as far as they went on full banking union with plans to come back to discuss a joint resolution fund to rescue ailing banks next year, when Ireland will hold the rotating presidency.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said: “We must not forget that we also have talks on the Multi-annual Financial Framework that will also take some time. Then we have the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and 70 pieces of legislation to put through parliament. I hope that we can deal with the image of Europe and a perception of a union that is actually working towards the particular objectives of growing economies.”
As a German election looms Chancellor Angela Merkel made officials drop any mention of a shock-absorber fund, backed by France, which would have benefited Spain.
Despite that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy appeared happy with the outcome: “A new objective has been included in European policy that is very important for Spain, that is special attention to youth unemployment. When I first got here I just listened to talk about fiscal discipline and austerity. Today, after being in power just one year, we are already speaking about growth and banking union,” he said.
Our correspondent in Brussels, Isabel Marques da Silva, concluded: “Despite the approval of a road map for banking union, 2013 will be marked by recession, a possible bailout for Spain and elections in Italy and Germany. These difficult issues led EU leaders to put off discussions on setting a budget for the eurozone or even a deposits guarantee scheme for banks, businesses and individuals.”