EU Summit: more sanctions against Iran

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels for a summit rounding off the Spanish Presidency of the European Union. The summit has been cut short at the request of France.

On Friday the French people mark the "Appel du 18 juin", when during the Second World War the leader of the Free French, General de Gaulle, launched his call to resist his country's occupation by the Nazis. This year is the seventieth anniversary of the general’s wartime message.

The sovereign debt crisis centring on the high debt piled up by several EU member states is set to dominate the meeting. Leaders face the challenge of mapping out a road to debt reduction that does not endanger the economic recovery. The European Commission (EC) has plans to vet the budgets of individual member states before they are even seen by the country's MPs. Under the proposals the EC will also be able to impose sanctions, if it doesn't agree with the budgetary plans.

Berlin is pushing for strict regulations. Germany is eager to avoid a repeat of the Greek crisis when other EU states had to rush to the country's aid as it struggled to raise cash on international markets. EU President Spain is being closely eyed by the financial markets. Together with France, the UK and Italy it has already announced austerity measures.

Good economic governance

The EU President, Belgium's Herman Van Rompuy, will also launch proposals to improve economic governance. Commentators suggest that one of the reasons why the euro experienced such difficulties in recent months is the clear absence of co-ordination in economic policy. Germany and France recently adopted a common position in this matter opening the way for an accord at this summit. The UK is wary of greater European interference and will hope to limit the co-ordination of economic policy to the country's that introduced the euro.

EU leaders also have to adopt a common position ahead of the G20 meeting in Canada next week. The leaders of the world's twenty richest nations meet to examine how a similar global crisis can be avoided in the future. Most EU states now favour a tax on the banks.

The summit will also approve the "Europe2020 Strategy", a ten year programme containing objectives for the economy, employment, education, the climate and prosperity. The leaders are also expected to consider the Millennium Goals to reduce poverty and enlargement talks with Iceland.

On 1 July Spain hands over the EU's rotating presidency to Belgium for six months.

Iran: more sanctions against nuclear programme

The European Union is taking additional sanctions against Iraq. The EU measures go further than those agreed by the UN.

In lid July EU Foreign Ministers will decide the exact scope of the punitive sanctions.

The EU’s Foreign Minister Lady Ashton is still prepared to talk with the Iranians.

Sanctions affecting transport, trade and several financial matters were introduced at the beginning of June.

Russia that supported sanctions at the UN has already voiced dissatisfaction at the further moves by the Europeans.