Spanish banks bailout to be discussed by eurozone finance ministers
Eurozone finance ministers are to hold a conference call to discuss a bailout for Spanish banks.
EU sources say Madrid could formally request financial assistance for its troubled banks this weekend.
So far Spain has denied reports that an announcement on a European rescue plan for its banks is close.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is estimating that Spain’s banks need a cash injection of at least 40 billion Euros ($50 billion).
The IMF said on Friday that a “stress test” showed Spain’s financial sector was well managed but “vulnerable”.
The eurozone finance ministers’ conference call is expected early on Saturday afternoon.
In an interview on Portuguese radio, European Central Bank Vice-President Vitor Constancio said: “It is expected that Spain will formulate a request for aid exclusively for banks recapitalization.
“There has to be an expression of will to have such a programme for Spanish banks, and one may hope it happens rather swiftly.”
Spain is under pressure from Brussels to act, possibly before the feared uncertainty that could follow next weekend’s Greek elections.
However on Saturday morning, the Spanish government restated its position that it does not need outside help to shore up its banks.
“There has been no change,” a spokeswoman from the economy ministry in Madrid told AFP news agency.
Spanish Prime Minister Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has insisted that any decision will come after the results of an independent audit on the Spanish banking system, which are due out within two weeks.
The audit will produce a figure of how much money, in total, is needed to prop-up Spain’s banks.
A rescue deal would see money passed first to the Spanish government and then to the troubled banks.
Because Madrid has already announced tough financial reforms it is likely that a deal would only carry limited conditions, our correspondent says, unlike the full-blown bailouts for Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
Reuters reported that eurozone deputy finance ministers would first hold a conference call on Saturday morning to discuss a Spanish request for aid.
The Eurogroup of finance ministers would then discuss the issue on another conference call, the news agency said, citing unnamed EU and German officials.
A downgrade of Spain’s creditworthiness by rating agency Fitch earlier this week has been seen by some as adding to the urgency of shoring up Spain’s finances.
European leaders have to make difficult decisions to steer the eurozone away from crisis, US President Obama said on Friday.
He said the US would support Europe as it implemented the hard solutions needed to solve the ongoing debt crisis.
He said a deep new recession in Europe would have an impact on the US economy.
Greece’s future in the eurozone was a matter for the Greek people, he said, but “further hardship” must be expected if the country chose to leave the euro.
Greeks will go to the polls on 17 June to try and end a political impasse that eurozone leaders say is harming Greece’s ability to tackle its economic crisis.