"Small but packed a wallop,” La Libre Belgique sums up the 17 JuneEuropeanCouncil meeting and its agenda. "Admit Estonia into the eurozone on 1 January 2011? Approved. Start accession talks with Iceland? Approved. The Europe 2020 strategy targets? Everyone agreed. Make European bank 'stress test' results public this July? Green light. Europe to impose tougher sanctions on Iran than the UN? Let’s do it.”

Then came what La Libre Belgique calls the "main course": "Scared straight by the chain reaction triggered by the Greek crisis”, explains Libération, the EU 27 "adopted the building blocks of what is eventually to constitute the ‘economic governance’ of the eurozone.[...] It is the heads of state who will coordinate economic and fiscal policies, and not the Commission,” adds the Parisian daily. The paper regrets, in passing, that “by making the European Council the alpha and omega of economic policy coordination, the states are not actually committing to much, since decisions are reached there by unanimous vote and their implementation will remain solely dependent on the states themselves. This is the diametric opposite of the Community method (majority-based decisions and constraints), which has in fact proved its merits." "In a word," concludes Libération, "the steps taken by the 27 are definitely too little and probably too late.”

The summit’s flagship measure, a new tax the 27 intend to levy on banks in countries that had to bail them out, has generally been panned by the European press, starting with Hospodářské noviny: "We won’t levy the bank tax,” proclaims the Czech daily, summing up Prague’s stance and pointing out that member states are free to impose the levy or not at their discretion. Evenimentul Zilei labels the levy “populist and ineffective” on the grounds that “the banks are going to pass the cost on to their customers”. And, reasons the Romanian paper, "The EU cannot accept a tax that would have harmful effects on the population, as will be the case – and in a big way – in Romania and Hungary.” That is why “there is no way this tax is going to be applied!”La Stampa concurs: “The proposal will be consigned to the oblivion of populist politics, or at any rate sufficiently watered down as to have no effect.” The Turin-based daily indicts European leaders, moreover, for using this measure to “designate scapegoats for their own irresponsible conduct and, above all, for their inability to regulate the very financial markets they protect and promote at every opportunity, instead of fighting them”. In fact, lashes out the Italian daily, “European politicians have not saved Greek and Spanish citizens, but rather the banks that irresponsibly boosted the generous supply of finance to the Greek and Spanish governments. In other words, European politicians protected the banks that didn’t do their job right, and now they want to tax them all. Talk about a universal bailout: taxing responsible behaviour to finance those who aren’t!”

Evenimentul Zilei recalls that the G20 finance ministers opted not to levy a worldwide tax of the same sort because Japan, India and Brazil have not been affected by the crisis. Die Zeit predicts that at the next G20 in Toronto on 26/27 June, "European leaders will not get their way. But if they put up a really united front, they will regain something that seemed lost for a long time: respect and credibility. And that will shore up confidence in the European project – and in the euro.” The German weekly is one of the only papers, moreover, to welcome the decision to fast-track a ‘tax on financial transactions”. Particularly because, as Council president Herman Van Rompuy puts it, "everyone is pursuing the same goal”. Which means the EU 27 will stay the course in Toronto, and "even the United States won’t keep the EU from imposing the tax”.

The Council meeting in Brussels was also the last such summit presided over by Spain in its stint at the rotating EU presidency. El Mundo calls the summit “global and exhausting” and a "stress test" for Spanish president José Luis Zapatero – "and for the whole Union”. Apart from delighting in the fact that the event helped a little in regilding a lacklustre presidency, its compatriot daily El País notes that “even if the details will have to be carefully worked out when it comes time to implement the understandings" reached in Brussels, "the mere fact of having formulated them goes to show the Union’s pulse is regaining vim and vigour, as is the spirit of the EU, which seemed at a loss and uncoordinated these past few months”.