BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers and officials met in Brussels on Tuesday to agree on leveraging their EFSF bailout fund so it can help Italy or Spain should they need aid.
They also agreed to release the next aid payments to Greece and Ireland under their assistance programs.
Following are highlights of comments after the talks:
EUROPEAN FINANCIAL STABILITY FACILITY HEAD KLAUS REGLING ON EFSF:
“It should be clear that we do not expect investors to commit large amounts of money in the next few days or weeks. Leverage is a process over time. We only need to mobilize resources if and when we need to support a member state and when we use our new instruments.
“But the EFSF is now ready to implement both approaches. We will use both options simultaneously. The final amount of firepower will depend upon the concrete use and mix of instruments and the exact degree of protection, somewhere between 20 and 30 percent.
“The deployment of either instrument using leverage will only be made following a request from a member state, and any support from the EFSF will be linked to strict policy conditionality, monitoring and surveillance procedures.”
EUROGROUP PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER ON SITUATION IN ITALY:
“We were discussing the situation in Italy in the presence of the newly appointed prime minister, Mario Monti. He presented us the policy priorities of the new Italian government.
“We recognize that recent progress including the anticipation of the balanced budget to 2013 from 2014, the approval of two packages that will include the primary balance rising 3.5 percent of GDP by 2014, and the tabling of a constitutional amendment proposal to introduce a balance budget rule by mid-2012 represents a good basis to build on for an ambitious reform program that is needed to secure the announced deficit targets and boost economic growth.”
“We have full confidence that Mario Monti will be able to deliver this program.
“The disbursement will take place once the IMF executive board has taken its decision in the beginning of December. Funds will be made available by mid-December.
“We reviewed the progress of the PSI (private sector involvement) operation. We called upon the Greek authorities and the representatives of its creditors to speed up negotiations to find an agreement in January ensuring the highest participation rate, while respecting the key parameters of the European summit of October 26/27.”
“We continue to explore further options to leverage the EFSF in light of market developments and investors’ interest.
“We also agreed to rapidly explore an increase of the resources of the IMF through bilateral loans, following the mandate from the G20 Cannes summit, so that the IMF could adequately match the new firepower of the EFSF and cooperate even more closely.”
Following are highlights of comments from before the talks:
SPANISH ECONOMY MINISTER ELENA SALGADO ASKED ABOUT A TWO-SPEED EURO ZONE:
“No, I don’t agree with that. All we can do to work together is important to solve this crisis, we all contribute to the EFSF and those that can, we all help Greece.”
“We shouldn’t talk about a maximum capacity, because markets would bet against that, I think we should look to raise its power as much as we can.”
GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE ON LEVERAGING OF THE EFSF:
“It depends to a degree on how the markets develop and on which methods would be used to achieve such a leveraging.”
ON BONDHOLDER LOSSES, GREECE AND INCLUDING PROVISIONS FOR PRIVATE SECTOR INVOLVEMENT IN THE PERMANENT EUROPEAN STABILITY MECHANISM:
“We are all agreed... That for the length of the EFSF, where we do not plan private sector participation, Greece remains a one-off. That cannot be called into question.”
“When have a permanent stability mechanism as an international financial institution, the ESM, as soon as possible and if we then want to implement the provision, as we have agreed, that all European bonds have Collective Action Clauses, then it is of course the case, that what is in the ESM draft contract must stay as it is.”
DUTCH FINANCE MINISTER JAN KEES DE JAGER ON ROLE OF IMF IN BAILOUT FUND:
“We will have to look at the IMF, which can also make available additional funds for the emergency fund. I think countries in Europe and outside of Europe should be prepared to give more money to the IMF. Then you have more money but it’s still not enough.”
“It could be through a general increase in resources — of the SDRs — it could be through new arrangements to borrow so bilateral loans and it should come from both Europe and non-European countries.
“Obviously, for a lot of countries, increasing the size of the EFSF is not an option now. The Netherlands does not block that option but several countries do not have the possibility to increase much more its capacity.”
“We have talked about leverage though private money, but it would be two or two and a half times an increase so not sufficient and we have to look for other solutions to complement the EFSF and that in my mind will be the IMF.”
ON DISCUSSIONS WITH LIKE-MINDED EURO ZONE MEMBERS:
“I met with my German and Finnish colleagues on Friday to prepare a common view on this crisis. We envisage a larger role for the IMF, but also it’s very important that we address long-term governance as well as conditionality.
“Only putting more money on the table will not solve the fundamentals of this crisis. We will have to do more reforms and more austerity, especially in southern Europe.”
BELGIAN FINANCE MINISTER DIDIER REYNDERS ASKED ABOUT POSSIBILITY OF ECB LENDING TO THE IMF:
“We will discuss with the ECB. The ECB is an independent institution, so we will put on the table some proposals and after that it is for the ECB to take the decision.”
ON EU-WIDE DECISIONS:
“There are two solutions (to the crisis), my preference is for a solution among the 27 but you cannot block those who share the same currency. If we cannot get a solution at 27, the euro zone must also be able to defend its currency.”
“We need stability and confidence. We need to help Greece, maybe other states too. This has to be connected to strong conditions and if those are not respected we need to impose sanctions up to excluding a member state. That’s not our goal but if that is necessary it has to happen.
“We need stability in the euro zone, that’s why we need to work with the IMF, the ECB and with a strengthened EFSF and intervene where it is necessary.”
ON LEVERAGING THE EUROPEAN FINANCIAL STABILITY FACILITY (EFSF) BAILOUT FUND:
“I think it will be very difficult to reach, in view of the changed market circumstances, the initially envisaged leverage goal, but we have to listen to the CEO of the EFSF before we can take a decision on this.
“I think the EFSF alone will not be able to solve all the problems, we have to do so together with the IMF and with the ECB, within the framework of its independence.”
“Based on the written consent by all party heads in Greece the conditions are met to pay the next tranche. But we have to discuss this, and also see what the commission and the ECB have to say about this. But I think the conditions are now met.”
Reporting by Daniel Flynn, Robert-Jan Bartunek, John O'Donnell, Robin Emmott