PM targets breathing space at EU talks

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is due to fly to Brussels today with the aim of convincing fellow European Union leaders that Greece is serious about sorting out its economy but that it needs to be given some wiggle room to achieve this. EU leaders are due to meet at an emergency summit in the Belgian capital tomorrow as Europe’s economy continues to take a battering. The EU’s statistical branch, Eurostat, revealed yesterday that a quarter of a million jobs were lost in January in the eurozone, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.2 percent, the highest level in over two years. Karamanlis is due to meet with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Eurogroup, before the summit. Sources said that apart from persuading European leaders that Greece is committed to reducing its burgeoning deficit, Karamanlis will be aiming to ensure that the European Commission does not impose any more measures on the country’s economy and that the government is given as much time as possible to come out of the supervision under which Brussels has placed it. Karamanlis will also be particularly interested in the possibility of a Eurobond being issued as well as whether a plan will be drawn up to help EU members, such as Greece, which are having trouble borrowing money. Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros yesterday rejected PASOK’s accusation that Karamanlis was heading to Brussels without any specific plan. It is expected that on his return the premier will invite all the opposition leaders to face-to-face talks. Karamanlis said he wants to have the meetings in order to achieve political consensus on the way to deal with the economic crisis.

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