Striking the balance between budget austerity and reviving lost growth was the focus as EU leaders met in Brussels earlier for the start of a two day summit. Despite more grim news on the job front – with unemployment reaching a record high in the eurozone – Germany’s Chancellor insisted things were back on track, ahead of a new fiscal treaty.

“This is an important step. We have shown here that we are able to stabilise the European Union. We have made a major breakthrough, which provides the chance for more political union,” Germany’s Angela Merkel said.

With the exception of the Czech Republic and the UK, which both refused to take part in the German driven fiscal pact, 25 other EU countries will sign.

Its aim, to get a tighter control of the bloc’s debts.

Unlike previous summits leaders were keen to stress this was not a crisis meeting with provisional approval of Greece’s latest rescue and a flood of cheap ECB money offering some respite.

Nonetheless, the latest job data remains a deep source of concern, particularly for Spain. Behind closed doors the country’s new leaders are reported to be pleading for more realistic budget targets.


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