By Simon Miller
European leaders have signed the latest fiscal stability pact but Greece will still have to wait for its latest bailout.
All European leaders except the UK and Czechoslovakia signed the pact which introduces harsher rules on fiscal discipline and penalties for breaching agreed debt ratios.
However, at the European Council, the decision to handover the latest tranche of bailout money to Greece has been delayed until Monday 12 March, eight days before Greece faces debt repayments.
Reports suggest that Spain, Italy and the Netherlands had called for a loosening of the fiscal pact and UK Prime Minister David Cameron had to fight to get the growth action plan included in the text.
The draft conclusions eventually added: "Europe 2020" is Europe's strategy for jobs and growth and its comprehensive response to the challenges it is facing. In particular, the five targets set out for 2020 remain fully relevant and will continue to guide the action of Member States and the Union to promote employment; improve the conditions for innovation, research and development; meet our climate change and energy objectives; improve education levels and promote social inclusion in particular through the reduction of poverty."
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters: "In the eyes of the world, what is at stake is the very credibility of the euro area and of Europe as a whole: its ability to deliver sustainable fiscal consolidation, growth and employment."
He added: " The euro is not just a currency of some countries, the euro is the currency of the European Union. Through their formal commitment at the treaty level to increase discipline and convergence, the member states are showing that, from monetary union, we are now progressing towards a true economic union."