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EU delays leaders' summit to finalise debt crisis plan

Herman van Rompuy is deferring a meeting of European leaders in order to allow for a bigger plan on fighting debt.

Image: Virginia Mayo/AP

THE PRESIDENT of the European Council of leaders has deferred next week’s summit of EU leaders until October 23, because they need more time to finalise a plan to fight a worsening debt crisis.

The EU summit was originally planned for next Monday and Tuesday, but will now be held a week later.

The new timing will allow the bloc “to finalise our comprehensive strategy on the euro area sovereign debt crisis,” Herman Van Rompuy said in a statement.

Leaders need more time to conclude discussions on financial aid to Greece, the recapitalisation of banks and giving the eurozone bailout fund more firepower, Van Rompuy said.

The 27-country EU, and in particular the 17-country eurozone, has found itself under growing market pressure, as fears intensify that Greece and other highly indebted countries will default on their debts and take down big banks that hold their bonds.

Van Rompuy said he had also asked for an additional meeting of EU finance ministers ahead of the summit, so they can lay the groundwork for the leaders’ decision.

Separately, the European Central Bank has revealed that it spent some €2.31bn buying the bonds of Spain and Italy on the second-hand markets – the lowest amount it has spent since it revived the programme two months ago.

The bank has now spent some €163bn on the bond purchases, hoping to keep the costs of borrowing for the Spanish and Italian economies within manageable limits.

Additional reporting by AP

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Gavan Reilly

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