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EU discusses economic, energy reform
Sat, 05 Feb 2011 16:16:25 GMT
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European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels February 4, 2011. Reuters Photo
The European Commission has placed a deadline for the European Union (EU) countries to develop measures to strengthen economic governance.

EU member states, during an EU-leaders summit in Brussels on Friday, gave themselves until March 24 to come up with a concrete set of proposals on strengthening the European Financial Stability Facility -- the bailout fund used to rescue Greece and Ireland.

They also decided on the treaty amendments needed for the implementation of a permanent bailout plan slated for June 2013.

EU leaders called on the European Banking Authority to conduct rigorous stress tests within member states.

“I think it is much better to try to find a solution now, which might involve a certain amount of bailout but might also give us certain longer term stability than to wait until the market put us in a position to where we don't have a choice again - as we did with Greece, as we did with Ireland,” Fabian Zuleeg of the European Policy Center told Press TV.

The EU's energy policy was the second topic of the meeting. With over 500 million consumers and about 20 million companies, the European energy market is the world's largest regional market.

Its sheer size, coupled with the declining energy production in Europe, means that the EU has to rely heavily on imports.

The European Council called for major efforts to modernize and expand Europe's energy infrastructure, measures that in the long term, would cut consumption costs.

“We need a truly integrated European Union energy market by 2014. This can deliver 5 million new jobs, boost growth and reduce our energy dependence, which currently costs us 310 billion euros a year,” Jose Manuel Barroso, president of European Commission, said at the meeting.

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