October 27th, 2011
06:08 PM GMT
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Brussels (CNN) – Travelling to Brussels this weekend on the Eurostar, one couldn't help feeling as though the train was moving into the abyss: The endless money pit that was soon to become the "no eurozone."

Upon my return journey, all things euro appeared somewhat to have regained their star quality, after European Union leaders finally reached a deal on how to solve the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis.

At around 4:15am local time Thursday, and after hours of fraught negotiations, a pale and exhausted French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, mounted the podium in room 20.45 of the European Council. He was there to brief his compatriots, European neighbors and the world. Finally – it seemed - disaster had been averted.

After two summits in four days, the heads of the European Union's 27 members –including 17 of those that use the euro - agreed to what they called a “lasting” and “credible” solution.

The solution consists of a three pronged attack on the crisis. Firstly, the European Financial Stability Facility – or bailout fund – will be boosted four or five fold by borrowing. The value of Greek bonds will be slashed in half and finally, the region's most precarious banks ordered to raise their reserves of cash to protect against a financial shock.

The package – worth over a trillion euros – is certainly ambitious, but was it worth waiting for?

The term “11th hour” was never more apt, because in this case it did take these leaders 11 hours to see eye to eye.

If you think that is tough, spare a thought for the two thousand accredited journalists, many of whom, like your correspondent, waited 22 hours for the deal to be signed.

After the EU's first working session wrapped up sometime around 8:30pm local time, we were treated to a rather lacklustre formalization of plans to tackle the banks' balance sheets.

This was expected, but irony was noted: Who would have thought that the banks - the main protagonists of the 2008 crash - would have been the easiest hurdle to overcome?

By 11:30pm, it became obvious we were in it for the long haul. Rumors of a deadlock between officials and private bondholders of Greek debt heightened the tensions and sharpened moods.

Spanish wire journalist Maria Tejero Martin, and colleagues from the Efe news agency, gave up hopes of getting out to celebrate her birthday. They popped open a bottle of cava and serenaded her with a Happy Birthday song.

The room applauded. Cake was handed around.

By midnight the bar had stopped serving Belgian beer, much to the disappointment of some British colleagues who instead sat there glumly nursing cups of Belgian coffee.

One blogger tweeted "500 journalists held hostage by EU leaders at the European Council"' – drawing a humorous comparison with the tense situation at Tripoli's Rixos hotel earlier this year.

Another warned of a previous EU agricultural summit in 1988 that went on for four days.

I chipped in with tales of my days covering the seemingly endless conclave in Rome which saw Pope Benedict XVI succeed John Paul II.

The politicians weren't the only ones with bailout fatigue.

About an hour before the high-level wrangling wrapped up, the leaders left the room, recalculated some sums, checked their figures and went back in.

At 4:15am, as a new dawn began, the financial fireworks kicked off with confirmation of a consensus reached.

The framework was there and so were the figures, exceeding many dwindling expectations.

Today the world economy breathes a sigh of relief.

Europe's leaders appear stronger, and re-united after their lovers' tiff. But unless the summit's plans are implemented with all possible haste we are not yet out of the woods.

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Richard Heteny

    It is like trying to start a camp fire in the rain. Insane! They are just buying time and it is getting dark.

    October 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  2. Neo

    A great success! A good day! Europe behave strong and clever!

    October 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  3. Loya

    It will not work. Sarkozy is playing bluff for next Election. Where would Trillion Euro come from? France and Germany. If so it is suicdal in long run.

    October 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  4. Antje

    Unfortunately the assistant organizers of the greek fraud, i.e. the US banks seem to get away with the loot. I should hope they are made to suffer for their misdoing like the capitlization the harbour and airport fees.

    October 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  5. morris wise

    Bailing out Europe makes them slaves to the American dollar. The next slaves will be Russia and then China. The power of the dollar rules the person and soon the world.

    October 27, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  6. Lauro Silva Brazil

    As always the witches go to party squandering public money by giving ¨haircuts¨ and pumping money into weak banks. All this will give room to a fabulous cheating even more fattening the pockets of the real bad guys. European leaders, sponsors and true culprits of the EU economic crisis. Negotiation quite unsuccessful because they forget that the progress of any nation depends on a healthy instructed enterprising and consumer people that now is old or jobless,by the way.

    October 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  7. william

    It didn't solve anything, it just postponed the end of the EU and the euro. The euro was and is a " political currency " started by people, communists and socialists, who still think that all cultures are equal. After Napoleon, Hitler and many before them this is just another waste of time and money. I live in the Euro zone and it's just a disaster.

    October 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  8. arthur uzo

    When and where will the next bailout be. The drama have a long series.

    October 27, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
  9. bysby

    morris wise- what planet are you living on? the EU is stronger than America, its America that relies on Europe, the one thing dragging the EU down is the weak Greeks, who lied about their financial figures when joining the EU.
    You Americans don't have a clue, EU is safe, its America that's going down the drain with the biggest debt in the world, the news sweeps that under the carpet while focusing on the much smaller EU problem with the Greeks

    October 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  10. Raul

    @Antje > I'm not an american, but check your facts before pointing fingers. The big creditors of Greek debt are the French banks, not american ones. I'm not saying that american banks are "good" and french "bad". Both (and from other countries) are too greedy and too irresponsible, and they should pay the price (in this case a 50% cut), but again, american banks are not the main creditors of Greece.

    October 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  11. superb

    i like to poop

    October 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  12. Jeff

    Of course it is good the Euro is saved (till the next year or two), but this is highly wrong, because the system became save my economy or the Euro will collapse and if the Euro will collapse a world disaster will occur.

    October 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  13. Jonaz

    European tax-payers just gave each greek citizen a gift of 9000 euros, with other words; each greek got a car. I wonder if the greeks will appreciate this very generous gift or just go back to protesting in the streets.

    October 27, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  14. situation

    they buy only some time, and nothing else, the eurozone will be broken. Poland has a dramatic budget, with higher deficit than Greece, but Grek deficit we know, polish we will be known (there is still hide with gold man support).

    October 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  15. Henk

    These European nations are setting a much better example then US politicians. Like the problem with this Washington budget Commission that is supposed to cut 140billion per year (for 10 years). The Problem is the US budget deficits for the coming years are hitting 1+Trillion per year. Talk about KICKING the CAN DOWN the road. The Debt will only further explode upwards.

    And remember most of Europe instead has already made large austerity measures to start correcting their budgets. And then they have this brand new currency without yet any of the strong policies developed in other nations to handle crisis moments. ON top of this they had 1 member that lied about it`s budgets further causing big problems. YET Europe PULLS together true this and attacks the problem head on. Extremely Impressive.

    I think we can all agree that the EU needs MORE of this centralized control. Nations like Greece would have been held accountable years ago if the EU had actual oversight over members budgets and could enforce corrections year by year. They are learning step by step what it takes to operate one currency. If only this learning process would have not happened during the worst global financial crisis of the past century. Oh, well.

    October 27, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  16. Revolution

    You are right. The Banks will pay most. Sure some of it goes back to the people. But enforcing no more dividends or big bonuses to ensure they pay for writing off Greek debt is something the Occupy Wallstreet movement could only dream off for US Banks.

    October 27, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  17. situation

    Bankers have paid bureaucrats to taxpayers will have to pay them both.

    October 27, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  18. jada billon

    o wow thats sad how they responded <<<333 JADA FRM DA BOOK & FRM TWEET....HELLO KITTY !!!!!

    October 27, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  19. A•F


    October 28, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  20. Nuno

    So... basically the problem is solved !
    wow it is fabulous how this guys can solve a problem that took decades to develop in 11 hours ! I'm impressed !
    But... wait... did they solve the problem or the problem that caused the problem ?
    Because the problem that caused the problem is that most Europeans live WAY above their possibilities
    Thanks to globalization the economic equivalent of the communicating vessels is sucking all the riches of Europe into the 3 BILLION humans that still work as slaves 12 hours a day for a mug of rice...
    When the communicating vessels level... Europeans will be much much much poorer

    October 28, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  21. sgtgismo

    Working for the time being until the problem arises again before too long.

    October 28, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  22. chedar

    *Congressional Reform Act of 2011*

    1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

    2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

    3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

    4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

    7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

    If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. Maybe it is time.

    October 28, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  23. Steve Thompson

    With the rescue, Greece's debt-to-GDP will only drop to 120 percent by 2020, a debt level that is still considered highly risky by many economists. Here is an article that outlines the trigger point for debt default by the United States and other developed economies:


    The "solution" to the Greek problem is a prime example of moral hazard. Governments in Europe will now assume that their bad behaviour will be rewarded.

    October 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  24. poll4europe

    EUROPE and the EURO.

    Or OUR future..

    December 2011

    What is the future of Europe ????

    Do we want to grow???? And what are we willing to share ???

    How can we grow strong and stronger???

    Only by changing !! And a lot of people will not like any changes and therefore halt progress.

    I have to admit I am a royalist, but at the same time royalty has no longer a direct place in a Europe that wants to grow and compete on the world market.

    Look at the British Empire and at the Kingdom of the Netherlands. World powers before the last war and now just as much members of the EU as all the other states. Kings and Queens now have ceremonial roles, far different from their previous roles as Head of State. I am sorry to say that I see no future for these ruling families in the future of a new Europe.

    What is their role once we sort of have a President of Europe????? No more than a puppet and who wants to be seen as a puppet ?

    If countries want to be a member of a United Europe we may want to take a look at the United States. How much as we do not like to compare ourselves with Uncle Sam. There we see states united under one flag, with one language, one dollar and with one government in Washington DC. If we want to copy part of that we must give away local and national powers to an elected European Central Government. And we better see to it that we will have more elected parties than the two in the American electoral system.

    I always think about my grandparents who were born just before 1900. The changes they have seen in the world are far larger than the switch we have to make.

    It is a lot about emotions now.

    Do we lose our King or our Queen, our flag our national anthem, maybe our language??? All nasty things, but something has to give in order to proceed. Do we lose control of our own little national destiny, YES. But what do we stand to gain?????

    We have to look to the future. If we do not take steps soon we certainly will lose out to the big ones of the future China, USA, India, Brazil, Russia.

    We the people have to decide what destiny we want.

    Just chose.

    With love,

    December 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

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