European Union leaders signed a treaty in Brussels Friday to require their individual governments to balance their budgets or face economic sanctions if they do not.
The treaty is the latest response by Europe's leaders to contain the continent's two-year debt crisis that twice has forced Greece, and Ireland and Portugal once apiece, to secure international bailouts to keep from going bankrupt. It was signed by 25 of the 27 EU countries, with Britain and the Czech Republic declining.
Now, for it to take effect, it must be ratified by at least 12 of the 17 countries that use the common euro currency.
EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the treaty, drafted over the last several months, will help prevent another debt crisis. He said it would lead to a "restoration of confidence" in the eurozone, while boosting economic growth and job creation.
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