EU leaders support growth, give few concrete plans
Thursday, May 24, 2012
BRUSSELS (AP) — Turmoil in Greece is forcing other eurozone countries to consider the prospect that it might soon leave the single currency club.
Luxembourg Prime Minister and president of the group of finance ministers of the 17 euro countries, Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters at the end of a summit of European leaders in Brussels that the eurozone countries "have to consider all kinds of events" but insisted that "the working assumption" was that Greece would remain part of the euro.
Juncker's statement was a frank admission that Greece could wind up abandoning the euro as its currency — a prospect many analysts fear could cause investors to doubt the financial viability of other weak members of the eurozone.
However, Juncker insisted early Thursday, at the end of a summit of EU leaders, that he had not asked the euro nations to prepare national contingency plans for a possible chaotic departure of Greece from the currency.
Steven Vanackere, Belgian Finance minister added: "To say that we do not prepare eventualities would not be a responsible attitude.
"I believe many countries have contingency plans when it comes to things they want to avoid at all cost, like a terror attack. And to say that we have no contingency plans, would be irresponsible."
At the end of a summit dinner of the 27 European Union nations, EU President Herman Van Rompuy said that all EU leaders want Greece to remain in the eurozone while respecting its commitments to pay back its debt. Van Rompuy said the EU needed to concentrate more on coordinating its policies to promote economic growth, to step up investments and credit to small and medium-sized businesses, and to focus on job creation.
French President Francois Hollande said EU funds could be dispersed quickly on projects that could help create jobs.