EU leaders understand 'indignant' anger at financial sector
(BRUSSELS) - European Union leaders said on Monday they understood the frustration voiced by thousands of anti-austerity protesters and vowed to make the financial sector share the pain to resolve the debt crisis.
EU president Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, however, insisted that the 17-nation eurozone must press ahead with budget cuts despite their rejection in the streets of Europe at the weekend.
"The concerns of those young people on growth and employment are totally legitimate," Van Rompuy said ahead of a crucial EU summit on Sunday aimed at delivering a comprehensive solution to the two-year-old crisis.
"But our responsibility is to go through this unpopular period in order to safeguard a better future," he said at a news conference after talks with business and union leaders.
After a weekend that saw tens of thousands of "indignant" protesters across Europe denounce corporate greed and budget cut, Van Rompuy and Barroso said the financial sector should make a contribution to end the crisis.
EU leaders are expected to ask the private sector, which agreed to take a 21 percent cut on Greek bonds in July, to take an even bigger loss at Sunday's summit and make banks beef up their capital buffers.
Barroso also wants to punish financial wrongdoers.
The commission plans plans to introduce on Thursday a legislative proposal that would make insider trading and market manipulation crimes punishable by fines or jail time across the EU.
"I very much understand the frustration and indignation of so many people in our societies. In Europe and beyond Europe, in fact, that movement you've mentioned is to a large extent a global movement," Barroso said.
"And this is a result to a large extent of what happened in the financial sector," Barroso said. "Some of the behaviour you have seen in the financial sector was completely irresponsible, sometimes ... of criminal nature."
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