Euro Zone Chairman Pushes Debt Buy-Back

Germany still in opposition, urging comprehensive package discussion in March

Jean-Claude Junker, chairman of euro zone finance ministers, has said in an interview in German magazine Der Spiegel that European leaders should consider a proposal to buy back the bonds of debt-ridden euro zone countries. At the same time, Olli Rehn, economic and monetary affairs commissioner of the European Union (EU), said in German newspaper Die Welt on Monday that European governments must regard as urgent the need to devise common measures to protect the euro zone’s stability. However, Germany, opposed to both measures, persists in naysaying.

The Junker interview, reported in advance of publication by Reuters, followed a Thursday report that euro zone ministers are considering a buy-back of bonds from troubled nations by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). Such a plan had originally been proposed by Klaus Regling, head of the EFSF, according to Der Spiegel.

The report, which cited an unnamed high-ranking German finance ministry official as approving the idea and also said it had a good chance of being adopted, was not sourced. A German finance ministry spokesman, declining comment on the report, said, “I wouldn't know of anyone in the finance ministry who would have said that.”

Meanwhile, Rehn, who told Die Welt that preventing the debt crisis from threatening an economic recovery and halting progress on jobs, said, “We must agree on common measures as soon as possible—the sooner the better. “The calming on markets in the last few weeks has given us a bit of breathing space, but there is no reason to lean back now; we must now act with the necessary determination.”

Germany still insists that it is necessary for a comprehensive package to be developed, and for consideration of such measures to wait till a summit meeting in March of EU leaders, but Rehn said, “It is necessary that European governments ensure it is not the financial markets deciding and endangering the economic recovery.

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