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Special> Debt Crisis in Europe> Latest News
UPDATED: December 14, 2011
EU Top Leaders Defend 'Fiscal Compact' in Parliament, Stress for Growth

Top European Union (EU) leaders explained Tuesday to the parliament about latest summit results, reiterating importance of growth in maintaining stability within EU.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on the decisions taken at the latest EU Summit. The EU leaders mainly discussed the new "fiscal compact", the disagreement with Britain and what comes next in the quest to save the eurozone.

Barroso cited Britain as the only nation opposing amending Lisbon Treaty. The reason, according to Barroso, was the country's demand for a specific protocol on financial services, which makes it unacceptable for EU and other member states.

Barroso explained he tried to find out a way to make compromise between reaching agreement among 27 members and without entailing treaty changes, but "unfortunately this compromise proved impossible and so it was not possible to have a solution that could allow all 27 member states to agree in the framework of the current treaties."

Barroso also stressed the importance of growth, saying we cannot build our economic union just on discipline and on sanctions: we also need a Europe of growth and of jobs."

The commission president spent quite some time reassuring the parliament that the new inter-governmental treaty would not threaten the role of the existing EU institutions.

"Member states do not want to diminish the executive role of the commission nor the prerogatives of your parliament," he said. "The agreement will not replace union institutions and procedures."

Barroso made his position clear that the commission will not accept any inter-governmental treaty that would be in conflict with union law. He also asked for the parliament's help in this regard.

"In fact, I expect that the European Parliament will be also associated to these negotiations, there will be no other parallel or competing structures," said Barroso.

Barroso also brought up the issue of euro bonds, which stays as a controversial issue for European governments at the moment. He said he would bring the issue in the upcoming summit in spring 2012.

Van Rompuy, on the other hand, referred to the mistakes of the past when presenting the new fiscal compact. "It has taken huge efforts to remedy the weak infrastructure provided by the Maastricht Treaty and to correct the policies of the past," he said.

However, he was optimistic. Even if there was no agreement on the form of the new treaty, there was unanimity on the substance.

"Confidence that has gone cannot be restored over night. It's a long way but this European Council is an important building block on this way," he concluded.

(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2011)

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