The new European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, got off to a running start on 4 January, his first day on the job. The former Belgian prime minister, who had initially planned to keep a low profile in the press, decided in the end to mark the event with television coverage for the press and a prominent first official statement.

Van Rompuy announced - ahead of the meeting, on 8 January in Madrid, with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero - that he is already at work preparing the extraordinary European Council that will focus on the EU's future economic strategy. He confirmed the date of 11 February for the meeting.

The convening of this EU summit and its date...

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