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Brussels blog by some wire service journalists

Europe’s financial chiefs try to ‘stop the rot’

By GABRIELE STEINHAUSER and DON MELVIN

BRUSSELS—Finance chiefs from around Europe gathered in Brussels Monday for urgent talks on how to ease the continent’s debt crisis, calm markets and — as one of them put it — “stop the rot.”

But with each get-together the ministers’ to-do list is growing longer and more complex.

After a week of economic and political turbulence extraordinary even by the standards of Europe’s debt crisis, the deteriorating finances of Greece and Italy were set to dominate discussions.

At the same time, finance ministers have to figure out how to turn their euro440 billion bailout fund into a euro1 trillion firewall that can effectively stop the debt crisis from spreading to the rest of the 17-country currency union.

That task has become even more tricky after European leaders failed to get any firm commitments to invest from cash-rich countries like China or Brazil at a summit of the Group of 20 leading economies in France last week.

“This current financial turbulence is really eroding the foundations of economic growth and employment in Europe,” European Union Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told the European Parliament before the finance ministers’ meeting. “So the first thing to do in the current situation is to stop the rot.”

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Don Melvin

Slobodan Lekic

Raf Casert

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