Comments before EU leaders' summit
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU leaders meet on Thursday at a summit where they will try to bridge deep differences over plans for a banking union.
It will be the fourth time EU leaders have met this year and the 22nd summit held since the crisis erupted in Greece in late 2009. Diplomats expect no breakthroughs at the two-day gathering, with the agenda focused instead on longer-term efforts to retool the region's banks and economies.
Following are comments by EU leaders and officials ahead of Thursday's talks:
GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL
ON BANKING UNION:
"We've got to work very fast, but also very thoroughly."
SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER FREDRIK REINFELDT
ON BANKING SUPERVISION:
"It's better to get things right than to rush things. These are complicated matters and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered legally, but also when it comes to how do you answer to what happens in a bank that has problems.
"Who is recapitalizing the bank, who is paying? If you don't have the answers to that then you don't have a proposal that is finished."
ON POSSIBLE EURO ZONE BUDGET:
"We are not part of the euro zone. I think it has been perceived differently in different countries. I know that it might be a German idea to link incentives to reforms needed in different countries.
"I think it's more for the euro zone to answer if they want to have something. We will have a huge discussion in November about the EU 27 budget. That's my main focus."
BELGIAN PRIME MINISTER ELIO DI RUPO
ON HOPES FOR THE SUMMIT:
"We need to work to change the climate, bring back confidence for investors and citizens... We need to do what we decided on the pact for growth and jobs, on the banking union, send clear signals to Spain and Greece to prevent the euro zone being in a bad situation."
DUTCH PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE
ON IDEA OF SEPARATE EURO ZONE BUDGET:
"The idea of strengthening budget discipline always has our support. We have a lot of questions about separate budgets because there is already a EU budget and we want to know what such a budget entails for the budget we already have and the payments the Netherlands and other countries have to make to it.
"Tonight I will only ask questions, that is the idea of the summit, to see what the proposals of (EU Council President Herman) Van Rompuy are exactly. I can't say yes or no to proposals that have not been completed."
FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE
ON CURRENT ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES:
"This Council is taking place in very hard social and economic environment, with growth figures that are not acceptable either for Germany or France - but which is not under pressure from the markets."
ON RELATIONS BETWEEN FRANCE AND GERMANY:
"We have a common responsibility, France and Germany, which is to bring the euro zone out of the crisis that we have been going through for two-and-a-half years now."
ASKED EARLIER ABOUT THE PROPOSAL FOR A SUPER COMMISSIONER WITH A RIGHT OF VETO OVER NATIONAL BUDGETS:
"The topic of this summit is not the fiscal union but the banking union, so the only decision that will be taken is to set up a banking union by the end of the year and especially the banking supervision. The other topic is not on the agenda."
FINNISH PRIME MINISTER JYRKI KATAINEN
ON BANKING UNION:
"I hope everybody shares the big picture that we should be capable of separating sovereigns from the banking crisis.
"Of course there are some practical challenges still, for instance how to integrate the outside the euro zone countries into the arrangement, and this is very important for Finland.
"We need to create a system in which all the member countries can join."
ON WHEN EFFECTIVE BANKING SUPERVISION COULD BE IN PLACE:
"It's not a question of one or two days or weeks. The quality of the decision is the most important thing. But we want to move on as fast as we can.
"The Finnish position is that we have to work as fast as possible, because we need a European supervision and supervisory body, but it's not the most easy thing to create.
"So that's why the quality of the decision is the most important thing."
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON
ON SINGLE MARKET AND COMPETITIVENESS OF EUROPEAN UNION:
"There is a global race taking place, and some countries are going to make it and some countries are going to struggle and there is a danger of European countries and the European Union falling behind.
"So I think what is absolutely vital is that we encourage enterprise, we cut the costs of regulation on our businesses, we do trade deals with the some of the biggest economies in the world like America, like Japan, and with fast-growing countries as well.
"And finally, perhaps most importantly, we look at the greatest asset we've got, which is the single market, which is the single biggest market anywhere in the world, and we complete that market.
"It is its 20th anniversary right now, but it still isn't finished, in digital, in services, in energy, and that is the agenda I'll be pushing very hard at this council."
AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR WERNER FAYMANN
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF A EURO ZONE BUDGET:
"I actually don't think that we need a euro zone budget. With the financial transaction tax (FTT) not all countries are with us.
"I would prefer if we focused on how we could integrate the FTT and other measures into the new common budget, against youth unemployment."
CZECH PRIME MINISTER PETR NECAS
ON THE IDEA OF A EURO ZONE BUDGET TSAR/SUPER COMMISSIONER:
"I would not say it would be a good idea. We have enough instruments to improve fiscal discipline, we've got the six pack, we'll have the two pack, we have the fiscal compact, and I don't see any reason to increase the number of commissioners."
EU ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER OLLI REHN
ON POSSIBILITY OF CURRENCY COMMISSIONER WITH POWER OVER BUDGETS:
"These proposals are in line with recent and ongoing reforms of economic governance and certainly will be a key element of negotiations towards a stronger economic union."
ON BANKING UNION AND SUPERVISION:
"It is very important that the summit now maintains the momentum of reforming the economic and monetary union including the banking union and, first of all, the single supervisory mechanism (SSM) for euro zone banks, which is related to direct bank recapitalization, which is critical to break the vicious circle between sovereigns and banks."
ON TIME-SCALE FOR BANKING SUPERVISION MECHANISM:
"I believe it is realistic to finish work on the SSM by the end of the year, it is a matter of political will. Now the political will of member states is tested. I trust there is the will. In fact, if the member states and (European) Parliament work as intensively in the coming weeks, as the European Commission worked during the summer break, then I am sure this work can be concluded by the end of the year.
"It is essential that all EU member states and the EU Commission stick to the commitment undertaken during the summit in June. It gives precise political guidance in that regard (on when the SSM should be ready), the entry into force and start of operation for the single supervisory mechanism for euro zone banks is a necessary, but not alone sufficient condition for direct recapitalization of banks."
(Reporting by Julien Toyer, Paul Taylor, Sebastian Moffett, Robert-Jan Bartunek, Charlie Dunmore, Barbara Lewis, Ethan Bilby, Robin Emmott, Julien Toyer, Claire Davenport, Jan Strupczewski; editing by Rex Merrifield)
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