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Spain's bank rescue to finish in January: EU

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Spain's bank rescue to finish in January: EU
EU Economy and Euro Commissioner Olli Rehn told a press conference that the Spanish financial market had stabilized, liquidity of banks had improved and deposits were rising. Photo: Georges Gobet/AFP
08:58 CET+01:00
Spain decided Thursday to follow Ireland's lead and exit its bank bailout without seeking a precautionary credit line in reserve, eurozone finance ministers said.

"We are fully supportive of Spain's decision not to request any successor ESM financial assistance following the programme exit in January 2014," said a statement following Brussels talks.

Spain agreed to a €100 billion rescue package for its banks with eurozone partners in July 2012, although it only called in about €41 billion in loans.

"Spain took the right decisions in difficult times," Spanish Finance Minister Luis De Guindos said at the Brussels talks, adding that the aid for its banks helped Madrid — labouring under enormous unemployment and a still-high public deficit — avoid a full sovereign bailout.

Nonetheless, Madrid faced the same difficulty as Ireland in deciding whether or not to request fallback assistance from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a rescue fund set up to provide a safety net for heavily-indebted governments.

A precautionary credit line from the ESM would also open up the possibility of the European Central Bank intervening in the bond markets to support a eurozone state borrowing at normal rates.

The strictly last-resort conditions under which taxpayer monies — which lie at the root of the ESM — can be pumped into private banks is a key issue being debated by all 28 European Union finance ministers again on Friday.

While applauding the decision for the signal, like Ireland, sent to markets and other bailed-out countries, the Eurogroup said Madrid still had work to do.

"We call on the Spanish authorities to rigorously continue the reform momentum to address any remaining challenges regarding the economic and fiscal situation, including the high unemployment rate and the vulnerabilities stemming from the still high private and external debt."

EU Economy and Euro Commissioner Olli Rehn told a press conference after the talks that the Spanish financial market had stabilized, liquidity of banks had improved and deposits were rising.

He said the key now lay in the restructuring of Spain's local savings banks.   

In July, Spain's top banking body, the AEB, said the banking sector had seen losses of €33 billion as a result of the crisis.

Non-definitive accounts from the body charged with restructuring Spain's damaged banking sector, Frob, show losses of €36 billion of the €52 billion injected into Spain's banking crisis up to 2012, Spain's El País newspaper reported on Friday. 

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