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World News

Leaders' comments from European Union summit

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders met for a second day of talks in Brussels on Friday, where 25 of the bloc’s 27 countries were due to formally sign a “fiscal compact” enshrining common debt rules among the 17 members of the euro zone.

The heads of state and government were also to discuss the situation in Syria.

Following are highlights of leaders’ comments on arrival at the meeting:

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON

ON SYRIA:

“What we are going to be discussing today... is the situation in Syria, which is absolutely appalling, and it is vitally important that there is humanitarian access into Homs, and elsewhere, so that people can get the help they need.

“But, above all, what I think matters is building the evidence, and the picture, so we hold this criminal regime to account, and to make sure that it is held to account for its crimes that it is committing against its people, and that one day, no matter how long it takes, there will be a day of reckoning for this dreadful regime.”

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL

ON SIGNING THE FISCAL COMPACT:

“We will now sign the fiscal compact as the first thing this morning. I believe it’s a milestone in the history of the European Union.

“For the first time we are committing ourselves to put into place what is in the stability and growth pact. We are committing ourselves to the extent that we are allowing the European Court of Justice to verify whether the debt brakes are applied correctly.

“I think it’s a strong signal that we have learned from the crisis and understood the signals and that we are banking on the future of a politically united Europe.”

EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT HERMAN VAN ROMPUY

ON FISCAL COMPACT:

“We here have achieved a fine balance between the 17, the 25 and the 27, workable for all.

“After today’s signature comes the moment for ratification. You now all have to convince your parliaments and voters that this treaty is an important step to bring the euro, durably, back to safe waters.

“I am most confident you will succeed. The treaty is short and sharp. Its benefits are clear and, above all, you are all gifted politicians otherwise you wouldn’t be here. So let us bring the child to life.”

FINNISH PRIME MINISTER JYRKI KATAINEN

ON FISCAL COMPACT:

“It is important because it will strengthen the credibility of the euro area and the economic policy. It’s an achievement that we have changed our fiscal rules and strengthened the EU’s economic policy in the long-run.”

ON GREECE:

“we don’t have a plan B because we have a chosen a way to deal with the crisis and now Greece has a very good opportunity to do what they have to do. They have the austerity measures and now confidence will follow.”

Reporting by Harry Papachristou, Ben Deighton, Robert-Jan Bartunek, and Charlie Dunmore

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