France

French Finance Minister insists eurozone in harmony

French President Nicolas Sarkozy with Finance Minister François Baroin.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy with Finance Minister François Baroin. Reuters

France’s Finance Minister insisted Wednesday that the eurozone was in accord on the eve of a critical summit to avoid a Greek debt default, playing down divisions over private banks’ involvement in rescue efforts.

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"There is a very broad convergence of views," Francois Baroin told France Info radio, a day before eurozone leaders were to meet in Brussels to try to reach a decision try to agree on a second bailout for debt-ridden Greece.

"There is a will to make Greece's debt more manageable and there are still discussions to be had about the share of the private sector," he said, referring to the divisive question of the banks' role.

But it is more a discussion of the extent of private banks' involvement, he said, and “not of basic values”.

"Most of all, we do not want a restructuring of Greek debt," Baroin said.

Meanwhile, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso warned on Wednesday that the eurozone faces a "very serious situation" and that failure to resolve the debt crisis would have global repercussions.

"Nobody should be under any illusion, the situation is very serious," Barroso said. "It requires a response, otherwise the negative consequence will be felt in all corners of Europe and beyond".

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were due to meet in Berlin later on Wednesday to prepare for Thursday's summit.

Merkel on Tuesday played down expectations that the summit would yield a “spectacular step" forward in solving the crisis.
 

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