"You're too tired to go on with this. Goodnight!".

Not yet the last word on the European Union's fate, just the way that Jean-Claude Juncker closed the euro-group press conference in the early hours of June 7. And since he is President of the euro-group, as well as President of the EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Council and President of the EU Council, he doubtless knows all about fatigue in these troubled days.

After what he described as an "excessively long meeting", he tried valiantly to impart a sense of direction and impetus to EU policy making. But it is proving an uphill struggle.

The euro is in trouble - partly because of real difficulties in euro-zone economies. The three biggest members - and seven others - are running deficits and will not be in a position to guarantee long-term stability in their public finances without medium-term budget stabilisation.

The European Central Bank has revised down its euro-zone growth forecasts for 2005, and is resisting panicky calls from Italy and Germany for interest rate cuts to revive economic growth, while Italian voices urge withdrawal from the euro. Compounding these woes, the value of the euro has fallen sharply, partly in response to the French and Dutch rejections of the new EU treaty.

Meanwhile, unemployment in the EU remains stubbornly around 9% - leaving nearly 20 million people out of work across the EU25. And the EU's economic sentiment indicator is continuing an...

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