Eurozone gets one week to answer funds finance questions

BRUSSELS, March 14, 2011 (AFP) - Eurozone finance ministers have one week to overcome "a certain number of divergences" on how to finance promised euro rescue funds now and in the future, Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker said Monday.

Leaders of the 17-nation single currency area agreed at a special Friday summit to give the emergency European Financial Stability Facility, tapped to the tune of 17.5 billion euros by Ireland, its full 440-billion-euro lending capacity.

Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado (R) speaks with her Greek counterpart Ioannis Papathanasiou (L) and Hungarian Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy (C) on March 15, 2011 before an Economy and Finance Council meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels to discuss a project aimed at slapping fines on countries that allow their public deficits and debt levels to spin out of control. AFP

Likewise for the post-2013, 500-billion-euro European Stability Mechanism, which will permanently succeed the EFSF that was set up after an ad hoc bailout of Greece last May.

European finance ministers met Monday and will hold a second day of talks on Tuesday to pick up where the heads of state and government left off at the weekend.

However, as the European Union hurtles towards a self-imposed deadline of a March 24-25 summit to come up with a lasting solution to the year-old sovereign debt crisis, finance ministers had to be called back to Brussels next Monday to resolve differences between governments.

Juncker said that given the "importance, technical nature and necessity" of wrapping up the issues to meet the March 25 deadline, having heard "a certain number of options and divergences," more work was required.

"Will this be done by guarantees or could there be other means," he said. "My personal feeling is that this will be done by guarantees. (But) then we have to discuss the timing... the speed and the tempo of the increase."

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