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BBC World Service

Can we expect solutions from Europe this week?

Andrew Walker Dec 5, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: French and German leaders met in Paris today to hammer out details of a proposal that’ll be released later this week, when the rest of the European Union leaders are scheduled to tackle the debt crisis. Today in Italy, newly appointed Prime Minister Mario Monti goes to the parliament, seeking big cuts and measures to boost growth. Like Greece, and Portugal and Ireland before, Italy’s borrowing costs have surged to unsustainable levels.

The BBC’s Andrew Walker is with us now from London with the latest on the European story. Hey Andrew.

Andrew Walker: Good morning, Steve.

Chiotakis: So ahead of this big meeting Friday, what should we expect to see from French and German leaders if they’re meeting today?

Walker: I think we can expect the general direction they want to go in — which is to have a much stronger, more credible system of discipline over government budgets for countries in the eurozone. But I think one of the things they’re not going to resolve — my guess anyway — is they won’t agree on who exactly should have the final say in enforcing it. The French president Sarkozy would like to have that done as a political thing, perhaps by leaders of finance ministers. The Germans want it done by the European Commission with the ultimate recourse to the European Court of Justice if necessary.

Chiotakis: Is there a sense, Andrew, that we’re actually going to get some solution to this problem? I mean, it seems like a cat chasing its tail, you know, is anything happening here?

Walker: I think there’s a distinct possibility that we will get some sort of decisions that will be conceived by the financial markets as being progress. But I don’t think we’re going to get the definitive solution — not least because if they do agree where they want to go at the end of this week they still have a very difficult process amending European Union treaties, getting agreement by international parliaments, and in some cases getting them through referendums.

Chiotakis: The BBC’s Andrew Walker in London. Andrew, thank you.

Walker: My pleasure, Steve.

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