Festive spirit grips EU leaders as they wrap up their summit a day early with key agreements on a new investment fund and sanctions on Russia. Ciara Lee reports.
Many hope for a quick getaway on the weekend before Christmas, and EU leaders are no exception. They wrapped up their final summit of the year a day early after agreeing on a number of key issues. New European Council President Donald Tusk, chairing his first summit, made a point of keeping it short. And many have commented on the sense of unity that's appeared under his direction. The EU is to launch a highly-leveraged investment fund next year to help kick-start economic growth. ECB chief Mario Draghi. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ECB PRESIDENT, MARIO DRAGHI, SAYING: "It could be very effective provided it's speedy, speedy implementation is one of the conditions. And the second condition is really that it's used for investments where the rate of return is highest." Governments with high budget deficits and public debt could be wary of investment in the fund if they risk breaking EU fiscal rules in doing so. But a draft document indicates that exceptions could be made for the fund. It's to be created next year with twenty-one billion euros of EU capital. And aims to attract fifteen times that amount in private money to invest. But how to spend it could be less straight forward. David Stubbs is from JPMorgan Asset Management. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) DAVID STUBBS, GLOBAL MACRO STRATEGIST, JPMORGAN ASSET MANAGEMENT. "How are we going to choose the projects for this fund? The Germans want to stick rigidly to the European Investment Fund's criteria of economic projects. People like the French are talking about education projects that usually fall outside of that. Still a few details to be ironed out but absolutely this is positive step." European leaders also agreed that sanctions on Russia will not be lifted. But they are ready to ease them if they feel Russian President Vladimir Putin is implementing the peace deal made. German Chancellor Angela Merkel. SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "We said that we don't see sanctions as an end to themselves, that we think sanctions ought to be imposed for good reasons, when it is necessary, and that sanctions can only be lifted if the reasons why the have been imposed in the first place are no longer there." Sanctions have not yet changed Putin's Ukraine policy, but they are having a big impact on Russia's economy. For now though, the EU is in agreement over the action. But tensions may resurface next year, when the sanctions come up for review.