European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has warned sceptics that markets are counting on EU countries to pull together in the face of further economic pressure. Speaking on 5 January after the Commission's inaugural meeting of 2011, he said the bloc had reached an "important phase of European integration". "It is not only the so-called federalists who want to see more economic governance and coordination," he told reporters, "it is the markets and it is also our international partners that are expecting it". He added, "It is not an ideological dream but a pragmatic need and those defending it are not utopians but realists".

Next week, the EU is set to release its first annual growth survey, which marks the start of the new six-monthly European semester', where member states adhere to a common timetable for submitting budget plans and national targets to the EU executive. The semester runs from January to July, kicking off with the growth survey...

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