Home > Business News, Market News, World News > Leaders agree eurozone debt deal after late-night talks

Leaders agree eurozone debt deal after late-night talks

Jose Manuel Barroso: "We need to show our citizens there is hope"

European leaders have reached a “three-pronged” agreement described as vital to solve the region’s huge debt crisis.

After marathon talks in Brussels, the leaders said private banks holding Greek debt had accepted a loss of 50%.

Banks must also raise more capital to protect them against losses resulting from any future government defaults.

The deal is aimed at preventing the crisis spreading to larger eurozone economies like Italy, but the leaders said work still needed to be done.

It also approved a mechanism to boost the eurozone’s main bailout fund to about 1tn euros (£880bn; $1.4tn).

The framework for the new fund is to be put in place in November.

The BBC’s Chris Morris in Brussels says the deal is not as ambitious as some had hoped but as much as could be achieved.

Meanwhile EU leaders welcomed Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s pledge to balance his country’s budgets and implement reforms to bring down its 1.9tn-euro debt.

“All of these calculations, commitments and expressions of determination can be dismissed if Europe’s weakest countries do not return to growth” — Gavin Hewitt

Correspondents say Mr Berlusconi had been under huge pressure to prove he was serious about austerity measures.

‘Ambitious response’

Nicolas Sarkozy: "We have been negotiating for long hours, but I believe the result will relieve the whole world"

The announcement of the deal helped lift the euro, with investors reacting positively to the outlook for the region’s growth and single currency.

“The eurozone has adopted a credible and ambitious response to the debt crisis,” a visibly tired French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at a news conference early in the morning in the Belgian capital.

Fears about the state of the eurozone’s finances and the threat of a break-up of the single European currency have been stalking markets for months.

Critics have accused policymakers of not doing enough to resolve the issues, contributing further to problems and fuelling uncertainty.

Leaders of the 17 eurozone nations had been in meetings since Wednesday trying to hammer out a deal to help Greece put its national finances in order and underpin other European economies such as Italy.

Speaking after the deal was agreed, Mr Sarkozy said that “the complexity of the files, the necessity to get everybody to agree, means that we have been negotiating for long hours”.

He said he believed the result would be a relief for “the whole world”, which had been expecting a strong decision from the summit.

Because banks have agreed to shoulder losses on Greek bonds, the country’s burden has been reduced, cutting its debt down to 120% of its gross domestic product by 2020.

‘Marathon not sprint’

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou hailed the deal, saying: “We can claim that a new day has come for Greece, and not only for Greece but also for Europe.”

The eurozone leaders also said the firepower of the main euro bailout fund – known as the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) – would be boosted from the current 440bn euros to about 1tn euros.

Bank recapitalisation – the third key element of the package – was agreed earlier.

The banks would now be required to raise about 106bn euros in new capital by June 2012, and governments may have to step in despite the unpopularity of further bank bail-outs.

It is hoped that this would help shield them against losses resulting from any government defaults and protect larger economies – like Italy and Spain – from the market turmoil.

“The package that we have agreed tonight, a comprehensive package, confirms that Europe will do what it takes to safeguard financial stability,” said the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Eurozone deal

  • Private banks holding Greek debt accept a 50% loss
  • European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to be boosted to 1tn euros ($1.4tn:£880bn)
  • Banks told to recapitalise by 106bn euros

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is a marathon not a sprint.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was a key negotiator in thrashing out the deal, said: “I think we were able to meet expectations and we have done what needed doing” for the euro.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde, who was also at the Brussels summit, said she was “encouraged by the substantial progress made on a number of fronts”.

However, the leaders acknowledged that some of the details remained to be resolved and that much more work needed to be done in the coming weeks.

Analysts will now pore over the fine print of the deal, and many technical details will not emerge for some weeks, our correspondent says.

But initially it was given a cautiously positive reception by markets and investors.

The euro climbed to a seven-week high against the US dollar on the news of the deal.

Stock markets climbed across Asia, with Japan’s Nikkei adding 0.5%.

Europe is a key export market for Asian companies, while nations such as China hold large amounts of euro-denominated assets.

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