BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders met on Sunday to try to hammer out a comprehensive plan for tackling the euro zone debt crisis, but a breakthrough is not expected until another summit on Wednesday.
Following are comments from Sunday’s talks:
”We did meet with (Italian President Silvio Berlusconi) and we’ve been on the phone several times in recent days...
”I would say that we were preparing for Wednesday’s meeting rather than today‘s.
“We asked for reassurances regarding the courageous measures that have been taken and we asked for them to be put into effect and also for reforms.”
“Clearly we are calling for a major effort to be made by the Italian authorities and I believe that they are willing to do that.”
“Everybody agrees we need a coordinated scheme to recapitalize the banks and improve funding.”
Measures include “exploring the possibility of limited treaty changes.”
”We are fighting things that originated in part decades ago. It is not about a crisis of our currency. On Wednesday, it won’t the last step that we will take. That’s why, when we talk about the future, that we ... probably must strengthen our control mechanisms in the Eurogroup.
“That’s why there will be many steps to be taken. In the current discussion, we must on Wednesday take certain steps that belong together and that are complementary. A bank recapitalisation on its own does not make any sense. We must also see at the same time that the problems of Greece are put on a realistic basis and resolved.”
“I am very pleased... that we have had progress. On recapitalising banks, the developments have shown that the finance ministers have reached agreement as far as possible. There is a big consensus.”
“Trust will not be achieved alone through a high firewall. Trust will not happen from a new package for Greece. Trust will only happen when everyone does their homework.”
“There have been hours and hours of discussions. Work is progressing well on the banks, on the fund and the possibilities of using this fund, the hypotheses are narrowing, and a rather broad agreement is in the process of being drawn up.”
“On the question of Greece, things are progressing. We haven’t finished yet. We have until Wednesday.”
“With (German Chancellor Angela Merkel), we have met the Italian prime minister, we will also meet the Greek prime minister because a series of measures needs to be taken, but the countries concerned need to be conscious themselves of their responsibilities and the new decisions that they will have to take.”
ON WEDNESDAY‘S SUMMIT:
“Our wish is that on Wednesday, an accord will be found that will alleviate the financial crisis, which will allow us, together, to prepare, with Germany, the G20, where other decisions will have to be taken to regulate globalisation and to allow the world to rediscover the path of global growth.”
“It is a point that we have evoked in detail with the Chancellor. And therefore, it is not up to heads of state or governments to give instructions of any kind. No solution is viable if it doesn’t have the support of all the European institutions. It’s a team effort.”
“We will still have a lot of work. I think we are in a good situation to make progress so that we can finalize our work on Wednesday -- namely, the agreements on Greece, on banks, on leveraging the EFSF (European Financial Stability facility) and governance.”
Following are some comments from before the start of the discussions:
”Today we will agree on measures to stimulate growth and to create jobs and we will also deal with the crisis in the euro zone. Useless to say that the current economic challenges are deeply serious: slowing growth, rising unemployment, pressure on the banks and risks on the sovereign bonds.
”Our meetings of today and Wednesday are important steps, perhaps the most important ones in the series to overcome the financial crisis, even if further steps will be needed.
”Some of those steps were and are unpopular -- be it measures taken in your countries or our joint decisions taken here as a union. I thank you for your political courage, often underestimated.
“These steps forward also require simple and plain hard work, so let’s start.”
“The ECB has legally only limited possibilities; we should not ask more of it than what is possible with regard to its independence.”
“Even the next summit on Wednesday will not resolve all problems in the debt crisis.”
”The world is watching the European leadership. I hope that we can have progress today toward a set of comprehensive and clear decisions and a joined up thinking process.
“The prevention of contagion and the construction of firewalls is of critical importance.”
“The crisis in the euro zone is affecting all our economies, Britain included. It’s having a chilling effect. We have to deal with this issue.”
“We need a solution, of course. I‘m not sure we’ll have it today. I hear we might have a new meeting in the middle of next week. We need a solution how to control the situation in Greece.”
“We need a solution to understand that this will in fact have an impact on the banking systems in Europe. When we control that, when we recapitalize the banks, we need to take a clear standpoint that the losses should not be covered by taxpayers, but by the owners and that we control managements inside these financial institutions.”
”We also need again to ask for more measures to put countries on the right track when it comes to clearing their huge deficits and public finances and huge national debts.
“Look at Ireland -- they have now started a process where they are meeting the situation they had and they are getting positive market signals back once they have started to reform. That’s the Swedish experience. That’s the way we have to do this.”
“We want more Europe, stronger rights to intervene. Treaty changes for that should not be a taboo.”
”Today, we are preparing for decisions on Wednesday. This concerns technical details of complicated process such as how the EFSF works, for example.
”Therefore, we must consider all details.
“One should not expect decisions from the euro (leaders’)group today but rather on Wednesday. I want to emphasize that so as to make clear what to expect.”
”Greece has proven again and again that we are making the necessary decisions to make our economy sustainable and make our economy more just. We are a proud people. We are a proud nation and we demand that respect of what we’re doing.
”And we are doing what we need from our side, the responsibility that we are taking on, with great pain, to make Greece a different country.
“It’s been proven now that the crisis is not a Greek crisis. The crisis is a European crisis. So now is the time that we as Europeans need to act decisively and effectively.”
”We are in a very different situation from Italy (on our debt to GDP ratio). I am sure that before 2014 we will get it below 90 percent (of GDP).
“Belgium is a country with strong growth.”
ON SUNDAY‘S DISCUSSIONS ON THE EUROPEAN CRISIS:
“It is essential that by tomorrow morning, when markets open, we have made enough progress so that the credibility of the euro is not in danger.”
Reporting by Daniel Flynn, Julien Toyer, Ilona Wissenbach, John O'Donnell, David Brunnstrom, Robin Emmott, Barbara Lewis and Matt Falloon in Brussels and James Regan in Paris