Obama, EU leaders meet amid European debt concerns
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House insisted Monday that Europe alone was responsible for solving its debt crisis, as President Barack Obama and European Union leaders huddled in Washington amid growing fears over the future of the euro.
Experts say that without drastic action, the euro could be days away from collapsing, a scenario that could cause further financial damage to the already shaky American economy.
Obama and senior U.S. officials were spending much of Monday meeting with top representatives from the E.U. as part of an annual summit focused largely on the global economy.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama would reiterate in the meetings that Europe must act decisively and conclusively in order to rein in its debt crisis.
"This is something they need to solve and they have the capacity to solve, both financial capacity and political will," Carney said.
The European Union is being represented in the meetings with Obama by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, and High Representative Catherine Ashton.
Back in Europe, leaders are circulating new ideas for how Europe could finally cap the debt woes that began in Greece two years ago and have spread to other larger economies, most notably Italy. Among the ideas floated was a plan for the eurozone's six AAA-rated nations to pool their resources via a joint bond to provide assistance to some of the single currency bloc's most indebted members. Also under consideration is a fast-track move to a fiscal union among the 17 countries. Germany wants such an arrangement in return for its money.
The latest bout of turmoil to afflict the eurozone came last week after Germany failed to raise all the money it wanted in a bond auction and Italy had to pay significantly more to get investors to part with their cash.
If a busy bond schedule this week meets with an equally-poor reception, then the euro's countries would be in real danger of being locked out of international markets and would face the devastating prospect of defaulting on their debts.
Obama has spoken frequently with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in recent weeks, and met with leaders from several European nations earlier this month during the G-20 economic summit in Cannes, France. The president offered his support to his European peers, but made clear that it is their responsibility to solve their debt woes.
The White House says other topics on the agenda at the U.S.-E.U. summit Monday included supporting democracy in the Middle East and North Africa, cooperation on counterterrorism and transatlantic law enforcement, and Iran.