France Slams On The Brakes On Euro Bailout Fund

PARIS (AP) — France on Wednesday called for reflection over the idea of a European Monetary Fund to help EU member states in times of need, saying a decision to create such a body would take time.

The establishment of a European equivalent to the International Monetary Fund has support from Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of the eurozone’s biggest country, who on Monday called it a “good and interesting idea.” The European Commission said negotiations over the creation of such a body could conclude as early as July 1.

Such a body could be a lender of last resort and keep financially troubled governments from unsettling the euro and global markets, the way the recent Greek debt crisis has, as the IMF usually does.

French government spokesman Luc Chatel said Wednesday that “the idea merits being examined” but that “a certain number of questions are on the table about whether or not to create such a European fund.”

He said such a fund would require changing the European treaty, recently updated Dec. 1 with the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty — after years of hair pulling.

A European fund “cannot be a determining element of the response to the Greek crisis because of the fact that it will take time,” he said.

The question of who pays for it also needs to be addressed, at a time when governments have little spare cash.

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