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News, December 2008
EU leaders Agree on 200 Billion Euros Stimulus Package
EU leaders agree on huge stimulus package
·EU leaders agreed on a 200-billion-euro fiscal stimulus package on Friday. ·The fiscal stimulus will be worth around 1.5 percent of the EU's GDP. ·The package includs "judicious reductions in tax" and increases in public spending.
BRUSSELS, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) leaders agreed on a 200-billion-euro (264-billion-dollar) fiscal stimulus package to tackle an economic recession, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Friday.
"We have agreed on an ambitious stimulus package," Brown told a press conference at a summit with his EU counterparts in Brussels, adding it was a "unanimous" deal.
The fiscal stimulus will be worth around 1.5 percent of the EU's gross domestic product (GDP), including "judicious reductions in tax" and increases in public spending, Brown said.
"Europe is fully united. This is a fiscal stimulus of 1.5 percent of our national incomes, around 200 billion euros," he said, downplaying a division between Germany and Britain on how they should spend.
In a bid to coordinate national efforts within the EU to support a sluggish economy hit by the financial crisis, the European Commission proposed in November the EU-wide economic stimulus package, which should amount to 1.5 percent of the EU's GDP, with 1.2 percent coming from EU governments and the rest from EU funding.
But EU leaders watered down the original proposal by pledging "around" 200 billion euros to the package, instead of "at least."
EU summit approves economic recovery plan
Leaders of the European Union (EU) will approve a 200-billion-euro (some 260-billion-U.S. dollar) economic recovery plan in a bid to steer the EU economy from a deep recession, according to a draft text of conclusions of the two-day EU summit.
The EU leaders are convinced that the ambitious plan "will make a decisive contribution to the European economy's rapid return to the path of growth and job-creation," said the draft.
"The EU will act in a united, strong, rapid and decisive manner to avoid a recessionary spiral and sustain economic activity and employment. It will mobilize all the instruments available to it and act in a concerted manner to maximize the effect of the measures taken by the Union and by each member state," it added.
The economic recovery plan, proposed by the European Commission, the EU's executive body, on Nov. 26, will provide a coherent framework for actions to be taken at the level of the Union as well as for measures adopted by each member state. It involves a spending equivalent to 1.5 percent of the EU's gross domestic product (GDP), with 1.2 percent coming from EU governments and the rest from EU funding.
The EU leaders will evaluate, at their meeting next spring, how well the recovery plan has been implemented.
According to the draft, the EU leaders also support a series of measures to be taken by the EU, including an increase in intervention by the European Investment Bank of 30 billion euros (39 billion dollars) in 2009-2010, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises, for renewable energy and for clean transport; rapid additional action by the European Social Fund to support employment, and mobilization to promote employment in key sectors of the EU economy.
Meanwhile, the EU leaders urge the EU Council and the European Commission to initiate a dialogue with the oil producing countries to seek ways of achieving a lasting stabilization of energy prices.
They also promise to work for an agreement on the "modalities" leading to the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda with an ambitious, global and balanced result.
Stressing that "EU must continue to invest in its future," the leaders call for the launching of a European plan for innovation, combined with the development of the European Research Area and with reflection on the future of the Lisbon Strategy beyond 2010, encompassing all the conditions for sustainable development and the main technologies of the future.
EU current account deficit narrows in third quarter
BRUSSELS, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) --
The European Union (EU) current account deficit narrowed to 26.0 billion euros (34.4 billion U.S. dollars) in the third quarter of 2008, the EU's statistics bureau Eurostat estimated on Thursday.
In the second quarter of 2008, the EU registered a current account deficit of 30.9 billion euros, according to revised figures.
However, the EU's current account deficit expanded significantly compared with a year ago when the deficit was 9.7 billion euros.
Meanwhile, in the third quarter of 2008, the EU external balance of trade in services recorded a surplus of 21.2 billion euros, down from a surplus of 23.5 billion euros in the third quarter of 2007 but up from a surplus of 20.5 billion euros in the second quarter of 2008. (1 U.S. dollar = 0.758 euro)
EU summit welcomes Eastern Partnership initiative
BRUSSELS, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) --
European Union (EU) leaders on Friday welcomed the Eastern Partnership initiative proposed by the European Commission last week, which aims to significantly strengthen EU policy with regard to its eastern partners.
The assembled heads of state called on the EU Council to study the proposal and report back with a view to the initiative being approved at the 27-nation bloc's summit next March, said a draft document released after the conclusion of a two-day EU summit Friday.
The union aims to officially launch the Eastern Partnership at a summit meeting with partner countries organized by the incoming Czech presidency of the EU in the first half of next year.
EU leaders believe that the Eastern Partnership would help the partner countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine make progress in their reform process by contributing to their stability and further movement toward the EU, said the document.
The Partnership foresees free trade, easier travel to the EU for citizens of these nations, enhanced energy security arrangements benefiting all concerned, and increased financial assistance, security and defense consultations, as well as far-reaching economic integration with the EU, the document added.
Under the plan, the EU will triple its aid to the six partner countries to 1.5 billion euros (1.95 billion U.S. dollars) by 2020.
The EU summit also endorsed guidelines adopted at last month's meeting between the group's foreign ministers and their counterparts from the members of the Barcelona Process Union for the Mediterranean, and called for further ambitious implementation of this initiative to establish the Union for the Mediterranean in all its dimensions.
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