EU split on future bank bailouts

image captionGerman Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has called for a consistent approach to future bailouts

EU finance ministers have failed to agree on how to rescue troubled banks in any future crisis.

After almost 20 hours of talks on Saturday, ministers are still split on whether savers should bear any of the cost of a bailout.

The impasse will now be debated at a meeting of EU heads of government on Wednesday.

"I have no doubt we will reach a deal," French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said.

Talks in Luxembourg on Saturday were centred on new rules determining the order in which investors and creditors would have to pay for bank bailouts.

Countries were divided on whether the Cyprus rescue should be a template for future bailouts, or whether losses be limited to banks' creditors.

The UK is reported to be one of the countries that does not want to be bound by EU rules, preferring to have some flexibility over whether to charge depositors in the case of future bailouts.

"It is principally an issue of the non-euro and the euro," said Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

The UK is one of 10 countries in the 27-member bloc that is not part of the euro.

Bail-in or bail-out?

Since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, countries from across the EU have pumped tens of billions into propping up its ailing banks. In the cases of Cyprus, Spain and Ireland, the country's banks primarily needed the rescuing.

In each case, the national government had to foot the bill for rescuing its banks, leading to market fears that the losses at the banks may be more than the government could absorb.

The problem was compounded by the fact that most eurozone governments rely on their own banks to lend them the money they need.

This changed earlier this year, when Cyprus secured a loan package worth 10bn euros (£8.4bn; $13bn) from its EU partners and the International Monetary Fund. This included a tax on large deposits and through banking reform, which will raise 13bn euros.

An early proposal to raise money through a levy on all Cypriot bank deposits - including those below 100,000 euros - caused panic in financial markets and was quickly withdrawn.

This came after bailouts of Greece - twice - as well as Ireland, Portugal, and a bailout of Spain's banks.

Earlier this week, ministers agreed guidelines on how the eurozone's emergency bailout fund can inject money directly into struggling banks.

The fund will be able to inject a total of 60bn euros into troubled lenders but the bank's national government, and its lenders and depositors, will still have to share the burden of any rescue.

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