EU finance ministers break no new ground on debt crisis

Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:55pm EDT
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By Jan Strupczewski and Gareth Jones

WROCLAW, Poland (Reuters) - EU finance ministers broke no new ground in dealing with the euro zone debt crisis in discussions over the weekend, instead absorbing some ideas and rejecting others and taking stock of progress on agreed steps.

Ministers and central bank governors from the 17 countries using the euro and the broader 27-nation European Union met on Friday and Saturday in the Polish city of Wroclaw to discuss Europe's slowing economic growth and progress in beefing up euro zone defenses against the sovereign debt crisis.

In an unprecedented visit to the informal talks of top EU financial officials, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made an appearance in Wroclaw on Friday to urge Germany to provide more fiscal stimulus to the slackening euro zone.

But Geithner's call for action by those who can afford it was rejected because the euro zone believes that market trust in the sustainability of its public finances, and therefore consolidation, is more important than spending on growth.

"Fiscal consolidation remains a top priority for the euro area," said Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of euro zone finance ministers.


Greece's finance minister on Saturday dismissed talk that the debt-strapped country was headed for default, while saying Prime Minister George Papandreou canceled a trip to the United States because tough decisions had to be made imminently.

"The comments and analyses about an imminent default or bankruptcy are not only irresponsible but also ridiculous," Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement.   Continued...

<p>Greece's Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos (R) and Greek central bank chief George Provopoulos arrive for an informal meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) in Wroclaw September 17, 2011. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel</p>