Four euro countries need financial help | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 11.06.2012
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Four euro countries need financial help

Spain is the fourth euro country to need international emergency loans. Greece, Ireland, and Portugal are already receiving aid from the EU, the eurozone, and the IMF. But Spain will get the funds in a different way.

Spain hasn't yet filed the official request for aid with the other 16 members of the eurozone. But it's expected to do so soon, because without the document, the common rescue fund EFSF can't access the markets for money, which it can then pass on to Spain - an estimated 100 billion euros. In turn, Spain intends to transfer the funds to its partly nationalized banks to save them from collapse. The banking sectors in Greece, Ireland, and Portugal have been recapitalized by the EFSF in much the same way.

Troika to assess Spain

Before the loan tranches can be given out, a troika consisting of representatives from the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assesses whether a country meets the conditions required to receive a loan. Spain also has to undergo such an assessment, German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio on Monday (June 11). The finance ministers of the eurogroup have explicitly invited the International Monetary Fund to add its know-how and expertise. But Spain is against the idea of receiving loans from the IMF because they generally come with strict conditions.

Spanish finance minister Cristobal Montoro admitted last week that his country can't access the necessary funds on the markets at the moment and that it needs its European partners' help. Another possibility is that the new permanent rescue fund ESM will supply the funds to Spain. But the ESM will only begin operating in mid-July at the earliest. The European Commission has already stressed that Spain has to continue reducing its excessive budgetary deficit. The sum that Spain now has to borrow from its European partners to rescue its banks will of course be added to its existing budget deficit.

Spanish banking customers

Ailing Spanish banks have to be supported. People have been withdrawing money from their deposits.

Most severe case: Greece

Since May 2010, Greece has been receiving emergency loans from the European Central Bank, the EU Commission and the International Monetary Fund. The two tranches for Greece that have been paid out already together make up a credit line of 240 billion euros. According to the rescue fund EFSF in Luxembourg, around 107 billion euros have been taken out of European funds. The IMF has contributed an additional 30 billion euros. Greece has to adhere to strict budgetary conditions, monitored by the troika, which checks progress before it makes funds available. Earlier this year, Greece was also given a haircut by its private donors, which effectively earned the country 35 billion euros.

Bad real estate loans weigh heavy on Ireland

Much like Spain, Ireland is suffering from the effects of a real estate bubble bursting, which led to a banking crisis. The Irish state took over all of the banks' risks – which turned out to be too much. With the country unable to get money on the markets to finance its debts, Ireland received a credit line of 85 billion euros from the EU Commission, EFSF and IMF. Some 35 billion alone was used to rescue the banks. In return, the Irish government committed itself to strict austerity measures. Unlike Greece, Ireland is adhering to these conditions. But the Irish government is now trying to reduce the interest rates on the loans supplied by its European partners, and to extend the terms. It's forecast that Ireland will be in a position again to finance its public debt on the markets by late 2013.

Further cuts for Portugal

Portugal gave in to pressure from the financial markets in May 2011, when it made the request for aid from the eurozone. Portugal will be able to access 78 billion euros in emergency loans overall by mid-2014. One third of the funds are being made available by the International Monetary Fund. Portugal is sticking to its lenders' conditions, but it used up more than half the credit line in the course of one year. And so Portugal may have to ask for help again before 2014.

Alongside the emergency loans from the EU and IMF, the European Central Bank has bought government bonds on a massive scale to help ailing states. This was intended to keep interest rates for Italy and Spain at a bearable level. All in all, the ECB has invested 200 billion euros in the controversial program.

Since the beginning of the global financial crisis in 2008, the EU Commission has even given out loans to member states that don't have the euro as a currency. Hungary, Lithuania and Romania have together received 14 billion euros in budget aid.

Author: Nina Haase
Editor: Simon Bone

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