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Barroso hails Europe finance deal

PARIS, October 5 – European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed a pledge by Europe\’s main economies to work together on the global credit crisis as a "step in the right direction," in remarks published Sunday.

"I think we did our maximum in the face of a very grave and serious situation that Europe did not create but of which it is suffering the effects," Barroso told French newspaper Le Parisien.

"It is a concrete step in the right direction," he said following the emergency summit of French, Italian, German and British leaders in Paris, at which they agreed to coordinate national responses to the crisis.

While the four powers put on a united front Saturday, there was no talk of a joint bail-out fund for European banks, on the model of the 700 billion dollar US package approved Friday, after the idea was shot down by London and Berlin.

But Barroso said it was unfair to compare the European and US responses to the crisis.

"We agreed on the need for a European response to the crisis and we put forward measures that secured a consensus."

"Europe is made of 27 countries. We cannot have the same unity as the Americans. Plus you need to consider that the situation in Europe is better than that in the United States.

"For all those reasons, you cannot compare the responses brought on either side of the Atlantic," he argued.

The European leaders called Saturday for a looser application of EU deficit and state aid rules in the face of the credit crunch, amid tensions over how much leeway to allow.

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Asked about a relaxing of the rules, Barroso warned "this must not be a pretext or an excuse" to overshoot EU deficit limits, but said "adjustments" could be agreed by EU finance ministers on a case-by-case basis.

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