Sept. 28 - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has urged the European Central Bank to do everything in its power to maintain financial stability in the euro zone, saying the EU faces the biggest challenge in its 50-year history. Hayley Platt reports.
The weather may be good in Strasbourg but the outlook for Europe is far from sunny. The debt crisis continues to deepen as the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso acknowledged in his annual State of the Union address. (SOUNDBITE)(French) EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT, JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, SAYING:\ "Today we are facing the greatest challenge that this Union has ever had to face throughout its history. This is a financial crisis, an economic crisis, a social crisis but also a confidence crisis towards our leaders.'' Barroso warned Europe's leaders they must work more closely together to prevent the 27-member bloc falling apart. And suggested further changes could be made to the EU's governing treaty to speed up decision making. (SOUNDBITE)(French) EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT, JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, SAYING: ''I really believe that we are today at a crucial point in our history, a moment when if we don't go forward with integration we are at risk of fragmentation. It's about political will, a crucial test for our generation, and I am telling you, yes, it is possible to get out of this crisis.'' Many believe Greece must leave the euro zone for that to happen, but Barroso disagrees. He uged the ECB to "do whatever it takes" to sort out the crisis. He called for a quicker introduction of a permanent bailout fund and more efficient use of the capital already in the current fund. Banks must also "give something back to society" he said - possibly through a Financial Transaction Tax - and he added there may be a crackdown on ratings agencies. German Bund futures, seen as a safe haven from the crisis, fell from a session high after the speech and the euro was marginally up against the dollar. Hayley Platt, Reuters.