Euro summit: Merkel displeased by developments


The EU flags on display in the great hall of the European Union Council in Brussels.


Georges Gobet

BRUSSELS - Seven hours into the European Union's key summit and there's little to please Angela Merkel.

Not only is the German leader reportedly very unhappy with proposals on the summit table that call for euro-bonds to share out Europe's debt burden. Her country's soccer team lost 2-1 to Italy, in a game that turned into a nail-biter at the end.

And sources close to the talks said Merkel was furious over the blue print for ending the debt crisis put forward by the summit chairman Herman Van Rompuy. 

For the chancellor, the plan places too much emphasis on euro bonds and other measures that would "mutualize" the debt of the euro-zone's troubled members, and not enough on her demands for a fiscal union that would impose budget discipline on wayward spending states.

Merkel is also reportedly unhappy with other leaders planning to push a proposal floated by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti for the EU's 800 billion euro bailout funds to intervene automatically to buy up the bonds of troubled countries if their interest rates rise to dangerous levels.

Although the summit is scheduled to wrap up Friday afternoon, Monti had said he was prepared to stay through the weekend if needed to hammer out an agreement. Merkel however has to attend a parliamentary debate in Berlin on Friday and has reportedly told fellow leaders she does not intend to return to Brussels for an extended summit.

Beyond such snippets, there was little news filtering out of the behind-closed-door talks to the approximately 1,800 journalists sweltering under the glass roof of the summit center's main press room.

None of the leaders had been down to brief and their spokespeople were keeping a low profile, usually a sign of tension in such talks.

Van Rompuy, the former Belgian prime minister who chairs EU summits reported told leaders they should not be watching the European Championship semi-final between Germany and Italy because they had serious work to do.

So officials said Merkel and Monti were being kept informed of the scores by aides during the first half, where Italy took a two goal lead. 

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