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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 1 August, 2014

Finance ministers to discuss prospect of common Eurozone bonds

So-called ‘E-bonds’ would help to prompt renewed confidence in the currency and make it easier to borrow, claim ministers.

Jean-Claude Juncker says the introduction of a new European Debt Agency before the end of the month would help to end the Eurozone debt crisis and fears over the future of the euro.
Jean-Claude Juncker says the introduction of a new European Debt Agency before the end of the month would help to end the Eurozone debt crisis and fears over the future of the euro.
Image: Yves Logghe/AP

A MEETING of the Eurozone’s finance ministers this evening is expected to discuss the prospect of having the 16-member common currency bloc issue a common ‘E-bond’, after the president of the Eurogroup said the consolidation of Europe’s borrowing would end the debt crisis.

Luxembourg’s president Jean-Claude Juncker, who leads the Eurogroup, and Italian finance minister Giulio Tremonti wrote an opinion piece for today’s Financial Times in which they argue that the issuing of a common Eurozone bond – which would consolidate the borrowing needs of all member states – would be able to eliminate any concerns for individual countries.

A new E-bond would “become the most important bond market in Europe, progressively reaching a liquidity comparable to that of US Treasuries,” the men write, saying that particularly hard-hit countries could finance up to 100% of their borrowing requirements through the issue of the common bond.

“Time is of the essence” in introducing it, though, and a European Debt Agency should ideally be created before the end of the month, they write.

Though the move will likely receive a broad measure of support, particularly from weaker countries who would be likely to receive funding from the bond at cheaper rates than they would through their own private financing measures, it has already drawn fire from Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble, who says the new body would require “fundamental changes” to the EU’s founding treaties.

Schäuble also told the FT he believed a new common bond would remove one of the incentives for governments to retain good discipline over their own fiscal affairs.

Ministers will also discuss an IMF report which is believed to call for an increase in the size of Europe’s bailout pot – a prospect which Germany sees there being “absolutely no reason” to do.

A Department of Finance spokesman said Brian Lenihan would not be in attendance at tonight’s meeting in Brussels, having excused himself to finalise preparations for tomorrow’s Budget.

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