Germany backs early launch of EU stability fund

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Germany has no objections to speeding up the launch of a permanent European Union stability fund, planned for 2013, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Saturday.

"The earlier the better," Schaeuble told journalists, while cautioning that it was not yet clear whether there is a legal basis for the proposed European Stability Mechanism.

European leaders decided a year ago to create a European Stability Mechanism to succeed in mid-2013 the European Financial Stability Facility, a three-year emergency fund set up in the wake of the Greek debt crisis.

The ESM would be permanent and more powerful than the EFSF, notably having its own money and the ability to engage in debt restructuring.

"If the ESM could be implemented earlier, then we would not object to that," said Schaeuble, whose country is the main engine of European growth.

Moving up the launch of a permanent institution could help to shore up confidence, he said at a briefing at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Washington.

On Greece, which is teetering on defaulting on its public debt, Schaeuble said he wanted to proceed "step by step" leading to "a convincing and durable solution for Greece."

© 2011 AFP

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