Obama Presses EU Leaders at White House on Resolving European Debt Crisis
President Barack Obama said resolving the European debt crisis is of “huge importance” to the U.S. and his administration is “ready to do our part” in stabilizing the global economy.
Obama said a “large part” of the annual U.S.-European Union summit was spent on the impact of the crisis in the euro- zone. He spoke at the White House after meeting with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
“If Europe is contracting or if Europe is having difficulties, then it is much more difficult for us to create good jobs here at home because we send so many of our products and services to Europe,” Obama said.
He said Van Rompuy and Barroso are “very actively engaged” in trying to resolve the crisis. Obama also said of the summit that “these aren’t always the most dramatic meetings because we agree on so much that sometimes it’s hard to make news.”
Van Rompuy said the U.S. and EU “both need to take strong action” to maintain the economic recovery. Barroso said he has “full confidence” that Europe will deal with the sovereign debt issue.
Iran’s nuclear program, strengthening exports and investments, Middle East peace prospects, terrorism and cyber crime also were on the agenda for the annual meeting.
The summit comes as European finance chiefs are set to meet this week to discuss a rescue plan, and days ahead of a Dec. 2 report by the U.S. Labor Department on the nation’s unemployment rate for November. The rate for October was 9.0 percent.
About $4.6 trillion was wiped from the value of global equities this month on mounting concern that Europe’s debt crisis is spreading.
Moody’s Investors Service said today the “rapid escalation” of the crisis threatens all of the region’s sovereign ratings. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said doubts about the survival of Europe’s monetary union has caused global growth to stall.
“The euro-area crisis represents the key risk to the world economy,” the Paris-based OECD said. Government bond yields for both Germany and France, Europe’s two largest economies, climbed last week as a German bond auction failed to get bids for 35 percent of the 10-year debt on offer.
News of a possible framework for a rescue plan helped push global stocks higher for the first time in 11 days. The MSCI All-Country World Index added 3 percent at 2:50 p.m. in New York, snapping its longest slump since 2008. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rallied 2.4 percent at 3:40 p.m. in New York.
The euro strengthened 0.5 percent to $1.3308. The yield on the 10-year German bund advanced four basis points, with the similar-maturity Treasury yield little changed.
Obama has been calling on European governments to act decisively on a plan to address the crisis. Leaders must summon the “political will” among the 17 nations that use the euro to take steps to ensure fiscal discipline while stabilizing markets, Obama said Nov. 4 in France as the leaders of the G-20 ended a summit.
Van Rompuy and Barroso are top leaders of European institutions having influence over a final resolution, though France and Germany, the largest European economies, are critical to any success.
Obama has spoken frequently with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and today’s White House meetings gave him a chance to further increase his lobbying. Neither head of state is attending today’s summit.
White House press secretary Jay Carney wouldn’t say whether Obama was making any new, explicit requests of the European leaders at the summit.
In a separate fact sheet, the U.S. and European leaders said they directed the Transatlantic Economic Council to create a Working Group on Jobs and Growth.
The panel, to be led by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, is ordered to “identify policies and measures” to boost U.S.-EU trade and investment to increase job creation, economic growth and international competitiveness.
The panel is to provide an interim report in June 2012 and a package of final conclusions and recommendations by the end of 2012.
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