The European Council president, speaking at a press conference on 9 January in Dublin, said that "2012 marked a turning point in the crisis" and that, for Ireland, which is taking up its six-month EU Presidency, "2013 is expected to be the year of a return to economic growth".

It is now perfectly clear that the slightly-built European Union chief has a steely determination to think positively, in terms of both the crisis and his own agenda. For Herman Van Rompuy, when the situation is said to be improving, four aspects need to be distinguished.

"First and foremost, and this is the most important thing, the worst is now behind us, especially for the existential threat to our currency. This uncertainty was undermining consumer confidence and posing a threat to the euro's stability."

"Next, economic recovery is around the corner," as is an improvement in "the unemployment situation".

"Third, we need more structural economic growth everywhere, without exception, and fourth, we need a currency, a euro, that is more competitive."

However, "there is still much to be done," added Van Rompuy. "That means improving the functioning of our Economic and Monetary Union by adding a banking union. One of the key objectives is to break the vicious circle of the banking crisis and the sovereign debt crisis. [ ] We have to finalise work on the single supervisory mechanism to ensure that there is genuine and effective supervision of banks. New capital adequacy rules have to be...

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