EU leaders sign off on debt crisis stratgey

By Gabriele Steinhauser

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 24 2011 5:45 p.m. MDT

A demonstrator tries to protect themself from a police water cannon during a demonstration outside of an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, March 24, 2011. European leaders hope to approve what they see as a comprehensive solution to the instability of the euro. But new uncertainly loomed as the Portuguese government is forced from power by opposition parties who think the proposed austerity package there went too far.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

BRUSSELS — European Union leaders have given their final approval on a raft of new measures they hope will contain the debt crisis that has rocked the continent for more than a year.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said just after midnight Friday: "I think today we reached a real breakthrough."

Leaders signed off the size and powers of its current and future bailout funds and closer economic coordination.

They had already nailed down the cornerstones of their "comprehensive solution" to the crisis over the last weeks.

But they left some details, including how to ensure their exiting bailout fund can actually lend out the promised €440 billion, for later meetings.

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