A special summit meeting of the European Union chose Herman van Pompuy, the Belgian prime minister, to be the first president of the EU Council of Ministers, and Baroness Catherine Ashton , the EU Commissioner for Trade and former British minister, as the first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security.

Goldman Sachs apologised for its role in the global financial crisis and pledged over $500 million over five years to help US small businesses to recover from the recession.

British Airways and Iberia agreed on a merger after several years of negotiation, although questions remained over BA's pension fund; if the deal is finalised it will create Europe's third-largest airline.

In Britain, Queen Elizabeth formally opened the final session of Parliament before the general election which is due not later than June 2010. The government was accused of drawing up a legislative programme that resembled an election manifesto.

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