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EU wants Greece to stay in eurozone, says Van Rompuy

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EU wants Greece to stay in eurozone, says Van Rompuy

EU leaders want Greece to remain in the eurozone but to “respect its commitments”, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has said.

Mr Van Rompuy, speaking at an informal EU summit, said continuing “vital reforms” were essential for Greece to overcome its economic problems.

The eurozone crisis has overshadowed the talks, amid fears that Greece may have to exit the single currency.

The eurozone is said to be preparing for such a scenario.

“We want Greece to remain in the euro area while respecting its commitments,” Mr Van Rompuy told a news conference in Brussels.

“We are fully aware of the significant efforts already made by the Greek citizens.

“The eurozone has shown considerable solidarity having already disbursed, together with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) nearly 150bn euros in support of Greece since 2010.”

He said the EU would take action to return Greece to economic growth and job creation.

But Mr Van Rompuy said “continuing vital reforms” were “the best guarantee for a more prosperous future in the euro area”.

Referring to Greece’s forthcoming elections in June he said: “We expect that after the elections the new Greek government will make that choice.”

Bond debate

On Wednesday, European stock markets fell about 2% amid anxiety that Greece might have to exit the euro.

Mr Van Rompuy said talks had been “focussed and frank”.

He said there was agreement on the need for economic growth as well as measures to restore financial stability, which he described as “two sides of the same coin”.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron emphasised the agreements that EU leaders had reached on Wednesday.

“It was a good meeting in that there was complete agreement that dealing with deficits and getting growth are not alternatives, they go together. You need to do one in order to get the other,” he said.

Greece’s caretaker Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos said he had “had the support from almost every country member”.

EU leaders began the summit with Germany resisting pressure to launch eurobonds as a way to ease the eurozone crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the bonds, pooling eurozone debt, would violate EU treaties and would “not contribute to kick-starting growth”.

France’s President Francois Hollande said that he wanted discussion of eurobonds and Irish PM Enda Kenny said the idea would be on the table.

Earlier, Ms Merkel said talks would not result in decisions but would influence formal summit talks in late June.

The leaders would look at ways to deepen the EU internal market, boost mobility in Europe’s labour market and better target European Investment Bank funding for projects. Such measures could help stimulate growth, she said.

The summit has been the first opportunity for President Hollande to shift the emphasis from austerity to growth – a key message he gave to French voters, who elected him on 6 May.

The French Socialist leader’s victory is seen as a challenge to the prevailing austerity drive in the EU, which is favoured by Germany.


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