Bail-out fund fight

The Eurogroup president Jean-Claude
Juncker has said that no decision will be made at the meeting of finance
ministers in Brussels.

Eurozone ministers have met to
discuss increasing the size of the European rescue fund, amid growing concerns
that Portugal and Spain may also need financial aid.

The discussions at the Ecofin
Council meeting are expected to get heated with differing views across the

Germany, being the strongest
Eurozone economy and therefore liable to contribute the largest amount, has
expressed its reluctance to increase the European Financial Stability Facility

Prior to the meeting, finance
minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he saw “absolutely no reason in the short
term” to debate increasing the fund, adding that only a tenth of it had
been used up on Ireland’s recent bailout.

Austria’s Josef Proell echoed the
sentiment, saying: “We have to consider how we can improve the efficiency
of the system and that is possible with various measures.

“We have to discuss those. I
see no acute need to expand.”

Meanwhile, Belgian finance minister
Didier Reynder had indicated that he wanted the fund to be doubled while his
French counterpart Christine Lagarde said the fund could be allowed to buy the
debt of struggling nations on the secondary market to take the pressure off the
European Central Bank.

The rescue fund pools together a
total of £627bn (€750bn) from the EFSF, the International Monetary Fund and the

Spain’s government aims to raise at
least £4.2bn from its 12- and 18-month bond sales today, Tuesday, after a
successful auction last week.

Portugal, expected by many to be
the next eurozone nation to need a bailout, also raised more than £1bn through
Treasury bond sales.