The head of the European Union warned on Tuesday that the 27-nation bloc will not survive if it fails to overcome a debt crisis plaguing euro currency governments.
Hours from a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels to grapple with an exploding debt crisis that has already brought Greece to its knees, and now threatens Ireland and Portugal, Van Rompuy said the EU and eurozone were in danger from alarm on financial markets.
“We all have to work together in order to survive with the eurozone, because if we don’t survive with the eurozone we will not survive with the European Union,” he said in a speech.
He said he was “very confident” the EU would overcome the crisis, thanks to “courageous measures” taken by states “to reduce expenses at a time of populism, despite massive protests on the street and knowing they risk electoral defeat.”
Van Rompuy’s stark warning raises the stakes after an admission by Ireland that it was holding talks about a possible rescue, six months after international partners had to rush to aid Greece with a 110-billion-euro bailout.
Portugal has also warned that it is at “high” risk of needing financial support, unable to borrow money on open markets other than at prohibitive rates.
The three countries are only the weakest links in a chain of debt coursing through the 16 nations that share the euro, with almost every other member bursting at fiscal seams.