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September 24, 2017

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EU leaders take reassuring tone ahead of upcoming ECB meeting

PARIS--European leaders piled up reassuring declarations on the eurozone on Wednesday, the eve of a keenly awaited meeting of the European Central Bank's governing council.

European President Herman Van Rompuy slapped away speculation that the debt crisis would bring down the euro, while Germany's finance minister forecast that the single currency would be more stable in a year's time and that heavily indebted Greece would remain in the eurozone.

The crisis is "wrongly perceived as a threat to the survival of the eurozone," the EU president told European ambassadors in Brussels.

While acknowledging that there was an "existential doubt" about the eurozone, Rompuy was "convinced that we will manage to lift it."

"This will take more time but we think we will achieve it," he said.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble estimated that in a year, "the euro would be a bit more stable and there will be less nervousness on the financial markets."

"We have lost confidence. That goes very quickly. Winning it back is especially difficult and takes a long time," said the minister on German radio, pointing to the difficulty of taking decisions at a European level.

But Van Rompuy noted a "genuine willingness amongst EU leaders to address the systemic nature of the crisis".

"To finish a house half-built," added the EU leader, who was to meet with French President Francois Hollande later in the day and with Greek leader Antonis Samaras and Italy's Mario Monti on Thursday.

EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso made the same point in an opinion piece in German business newspaper Handelsblatt.

"There is sufficient political will in the EU to do everything necessary to protect the euro, because the the future of the single currency is also the future of European integration," he said.

At the same time, political leaders are not hiding the fact that they are hoping for the central bank to unveil fresh crisis busting action when it holds its monthly policy meeting on Thursday.

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