Welcome to a live blog of events in Brussels as European leaders meet for a second day to discuss how far and fast to push integration of fiscal and economic systems in the 27-country bloc. Ben Fenton in London is watching.
14.46: And that seems an appropriately grim note on which to end live-blog coverage of the EU council summit, a meeting of which few had high expectations and yet most observers seem still to have come away disappointed.
Until next time.
14.34: Courtesy of Reuters, we have a jolly Christmas message from Chancellor Merkel:
“One reason I am careful with my forecasts is the adjustment process, the changes that we are going through are very difficult and painful.”
“Next year, and the ECB president said this, we will have very low growth rates, we will see negative growth in some countries, and we can expect very high unemployment levels to continue.”
“On the one hand we have accomplished a lot. But we also have tough times ahead of us that can’t be solved with one big step. There has been lots of talk about the one step, whether it be a debt haircut, euro bonds or some other measure that will solve everything. That won’t be the case.”
Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel before their meeting at the Elysee palace on Monday. Photo: Remy de la Mauvinere/AP
Welcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Esther Bintliff on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.
This post should update automatically every few minutes, but it may take longer on mobile devices. All times are GMT.
19.40: So, after a relatively quiet morning, this afternoon and evening have proved to be a bit of a rollercoaster.
- First, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel surprised everyone by announcing they had reached “comprehensive agreement” on a new set of fiscal rules ahead of the EU summit later this week. Of course we knew they were going to meet, but to be honest, we hadn’t expected them to say very much in public at this stage. So stock markets rallied, bond yields fell and suddenly it looked like a resolution to the eurozone crisis might be in sight…
- Then, just when you thought it might be safe etc etc, this story broke. In brief: Standard and Poor’s has warned Germany and the five other triple A members of the eurozone that they risk having their top-notch ratings downgraded as a result of deepening economic and political turmoil in the single currency bloc. The US ratings agency is poised to announce later on Monday that it is putting Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, and Luxembourg on “creditwatch negative”, meaning there is a one-in-two chance of a downgrade within 90 days.
Understandably, investors took fright, and stock markets pared many of the gains made earlier in the day. There will be more news on this story tonight – see FT.com for all the latest. In the meantime thanks for reading, and for all the comments. Read more