NEWS

Papandreou sets goals for EU summit

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will be among the European Union leaders calling for closer coordination of economic policies and greater support for the eurozone?s weaker members at a summit in Brussels on Friday.

Papandreou will also be hoping that his counterparts approve the extension of Greece?s repayment period for the 110 billion euros it is receiving in emergency loans.

The interest rate at which Greece is borrowing this money will also be up for discussion, as will the guarantees that Germany may want to give the green light to a longer repayment period at a lower interest rate. It had been suggested earlier this week that Chancellor Angela Merkel would demand a rise in retirement ages for Greeks.

However, this summit, which is meant to focus on energy issues, is also expected to be the final, significant step before EU leaders agree in their next summit on March 4 the details of a European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

“We will talk about how to prepare decisions that are still necessary, in particular with regard to the permanent crisis mechanism which is to be agreed by March, and also to bring in the proposals of France and Germany for a stronger coordination of economic policy in the Eurogroup,» Merkel told reporters ahead of the meeting.

“We want to increase our competitiveness and grow closer together within the Eurogroup and also invite other countries to take part.»

Among the proposal to be discussed in Brussels are letting the EFSF buy the bonds of vulnerable governments on the open market, providing countries with a short-term liquidity line or lending them the money to buy back their own bonds.

EU leaders will also discuss the situation in Egypt. Speaking to the BBC on Wednesday, Papandreou said: ?I think what we need in Egypt is a transition to democracy without violence.?