Barroso confident of achieving solidarity at EU special summit
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso Sunday urged European Union (EU) leaders to show determination and "common resolve" to overcome the worsening economic and financial crisis, but voiced confidence in achieving unity at the special EU summit.
"I am looking forward to a constructive meeting. Under the current difficult situation, we need common resolve to overcome the financial crisis through a very coordinated manner," Barroso told reporters upon arrival for the meeting, which was dedicated to the financial crisis.
Polish Prime Minister Donal Tusk also told reporters that the EU needs "solidarity" to fight the financial crisis.
"The impact of the crisis is severe and all participants have agreed on a need to maintain European solidarity while adhering to rules and principles that stem from the EU treaty," Tusk said after attending a meeting of leaders from the Eastern European countries that have joined the EU since 2004.
He called for maintenance of a single EU market and adherence to the common rules of the 27-member regional bloc.
The extraordinary EU summit was called when protectionism looms large within the 27-nation bloc. Split appeared between Eastern and Western European countries after the latter resorted to protectionist measures to save their industries from the worst economic crisis in decades.
"We do not want any new dividing lines; we do not want a Europe divided along a North-South or an East-West line; pursuing a beggar-thy-neighbor policy is unacceptable," said Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency.
The Czechs have been particularly incensed by French plans to offer public aid to carmakers Renault and Peugeot-Citroen on condition that they will not commit to laying off French workers, a move seen as threatening jobs of workers in factories owned by the French automakers in Eastern Europe.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy added to Easterners' concern with recent televised comments that appeared to directly criticize the French companies for investing in the Czech Republic and other nations where costs are lower than in France.
"Europe will only overcome the crisis if we act together in a coordinated way and if we abide by the community rules," said Topolanek, "That the internal market remains united is of vital importance."
Hours before the emergency EU summit, leaders from nine Central and Eastern European countries met separately to work on a common position against the rise of protectionism.
With the economic situation deteriorating in Eastern Europe, there is a mounting concern that a collapse of Eastern European economies could trigger further instability across the continent.
Speaking ahead of the summit, Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said the Eastern EU countries were wary of an economic "iron curtain" at the summit designed to seek a coordinated response to the economic crisis amid fear of protectionism.
"We should not allow a new iron curtain to be set up and divide Europe in two parts."
Hungary was among the worst hit Eastern European countries in the financial crisis. Together with Latvia, the country has been forced to seek financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Gyurcsany called for a special EU fund of up to 190 billion euros (241 billion U.S. dollars) to bail out Central and Eastern European countries.
Among the sum, approximately 30 percent will be used to provide emergency liquidity to central banks of Central and Eastern European countries and Western European banks heavily exposed to the region, according to a proposal seen by Xinhua.