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29 February 2024

EU leaders begin emergency summit on economy


EU heads of state and government began an emergency EU summit on Sunday, seeking to forge a united response to the economic crisis amid fears in eastern Europe of a protectionist "iron curtain".

"I think it is important at a time of difficulty that all the leaders of Europe show their common resolve," said EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso as he arrived for the talks.

Central and Eastern nations are concerned that their richer western neighbours are taking measures to bail out or shore up their own ailing banks and industries without doing enough to help those nations who cannot.

The level of concern was illustrated by a decision by nine eastern European leaders to hold a pre-summit in Brussels ahead of the main event, in order to co-ordinate their message.

"We must resist the temptation of protectionism," said Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

However there was little support from western, and some eastern, EU nations for the kind of multi-billion euro special package of support for the central and eastern member states championed by Hungary.

"I don't think there is a need for some kind of specific aid or support to central or eastern Europe," said Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.