Herman Van Rompuy began his term as EU president on Jan. 1, 2010.

New EU President Sets February Jobs Summit

Herman Van Rompuy made the announcement of the Feb. 11 event to open his presidency of the European Union. "We need more economic growth in order to finance on a sound basis our social model [and] to preserve our European way of life," he said.

New European Union President Herman Van Rompuy has called a Feb. 11 summit in Brussels on jobs and solutions to the current economic crisis, saying he wants to begin mapping the EU's economic and social agenda for the next decade. Van Rompuy began his term Jan. 1 and announced the summit on Monday, his first working day in the job.

Unemployment has more than doubled in the Baltic countries, Ireland, and Spain, with an EU report in November 2009 saying youth unemployment rates reached new historical highs. Government deficits also are rising, causing Greece's debt to be downgraded by to a B rating by one rating agency recently.

"I believe the economic issues –- how best to coordinate to counter the adverse impact of the crisis on jobs and on public finances, how to plan strategies for the next stage once recovery is secured -– will top the agenda of the heads of state or government for the months to come," Van Rompuy said.

Van Rompuy, who is Belgium's prime minister, was chosen EU president on Nov. 20, 2009, by EU heads of state and government. He will chair EU summit meetings for the next two and a half years.

Unemployment in the EU is expected to increase this year to a peak of 10.3 percent for the 27 Member States. The U.S. national unemployment rate for November 2009 was 9.4 percent, with 125 metropolitan areas reporting rates of 10.0 percent or higher, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

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