Euro ministers start talks on long-term crisis plan

Eurozone finance ministers discussed on Monday having more money in their rescue fund and cheaper emergency loans… as part of a package of measures to end the sovereign debt crisis. But they made no firm decisions.

The chairman of eurozone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, said the ministers discussed many possible options under the package, but favoured none at this stage.

Juncker vowed to accelerate work on the package, but was careful not to commit to being ready in time for EU summits in February and March.

The ministers discussed a European Commission proposal to increase the effective lending capacity of the eurozone rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), to 440 billion euros from about 250 billion now.
The EFSF was set up in May 2010 to borrow money on markets with eurozone government guarantees of up to 440 billion euros.

But because the biggest eurozone economies want to maintain their triple A credit rating, the effective amount the fund can lend to countries in need is around 250 billion euros.

Because of the rescue packages for Greece and Ireland, this facility has already been significantly depleted.

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