Olli Rehn seemed more relaxed and upbeat about the eurozone’s economy than usual at the pre-EU summit conference held by the European Liberal Democrats (ELDR).
The man in charge of the EU’s economic agenda said that the eurozone crisis could be approaching an end, as measures taken in the summer to bolster the recovery had started having an impact. Read more
José Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission, attacked EU member states for failing to implement growth measures that could balance the short term negative impact of harsh austerity policies imposed due to the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis.
“Very frankly I am not happy with the progress made so far,” said Mr Barroso ahead of the EU summit. “Unfortunately we see little willingness on some of our governments to ensure appropriate funding for key instruments to help to offset the negative social impact of the crisis.”
Mr Barroso’s comments were followed by harsh criticism from the head of the EU’s largest trade union, who accused European governments of destroying the continent’s social welfare system. Read more
One of the odder pre-summit party gatherings is going on at the Stanhope Hotel, not far from the FT’s bureau in Brussels. There, a group called European Conservatives and Reformists is meeting, a rarity for them in the normal summit run-up.
The group is basically made up of centre-right EU parties that are too eurosceptic to join up with the main centre-right political grouping, the European People’s Party of Germany’s Angela Merkel and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy. Read more
Hollande arrives at the Party of European Socialists gathering ahead of the EU summit.
François Hollande, the French president, has just arrived at the socialist confab at The Square meeting centre in Brussels. Read more
Van Rompuy sent the note to national delegations yesterday, ahead of today's summit start.
The issue of a collective budget for the 17 eurozone members has come roaring out of nowhere to become one of the most contentious issues heading into today’s EU summit. It’s included both in the draft conclusions sent around by Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president, and in his report on the future of the European Monetary Union.
The proposal is so contentious – the French see it as a nascent supranational budget that would spend on things such as unemployment insurance; the Germans a small, targeted fund to help start short-term programmes such as job training schemes – that Van Rompuy yesterday sent around a “background note” to national delegations to flesh out the idea.
The note, seen by Brussels Blog, contains eight separate questions about the eurozone budget and other parts of his EMU report that have drawn controversy, in an apparent attempt to steer tonight’s discussion around the summit table. We’ve posted a copy after the jump. Read more
Legal opinions from the top lawyer to EU ministers are not intended for mass circulation. They are usually virtually unquotable, often studiously ambiguous and always highly political. But the Council legal service’s take on the European Commission plan for a single bank supervisor is a classic.
The headline is that the Commission’s supervision blueprint — as announced in September — is illegal in key parts. More important, though, is the detail of the argument and the challenges it poses to finding a diplomatic solution before the end of the year.
Before diving into the argument and quoting key sections, it is worth sumarising and explaining some of the implications. Read more