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25 EU nations to sign treaty to stop overspending

BRUSSELS — All European Union countries except Great Britain and the Czech Republic agreed Monday to sign a treaty designed to stop overspending in the eurozone and put an end to the bloc's crippling debt crisis, while EU leaders also pledged to stimulate growth and employment.

The treaty, known as the fiscal compact, was agreed upon at a summit of European leaders in Brussels. It includes strict debt brakes and makes it more difficult for deficit sinners to escape sanctions. The 17 countries in the eurozone hope the tighter rules will restore confidence in their joint currency and convince investors that all of them will get their debts under control.

"We have a majority of 25 that will now sign up to the fiscal compact," Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said.

Although the new rules apply only to the 17 euro states, the currency union wants to get broad support from the other EU states, in hopes the accord will eventually be integrated into the main EU treaty.

Britain had said in December that it wouldn't sign the new treaty. Reinfeldt said the Czech Republic didn't sign because of parliamentary procedural problems.

Leaders at the summit also promised to stimulate growth and create jobs across the region, an acknowledgment that their exclusive focus on austerity has had painful side effects.

"Yes, we need discipline, but we also need growth," said Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm.

The leaders pledged to offer more training for young people to ease their transition into the workforce, to deploy unused development funds to create jobs, to reduce barriers to doing business across the EU's 27 countries, and to ensure that small businesses have access to credit.

25 EU nations to sign treaty to stop overspending 01/30/12 [Last modified: Monday, January 30, 2012 10:32pm]

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