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European finance ministers agree to join in averting crises

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European finance ministers agree to join in averting crises

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European finance ministers have agreed to boost cooperation to head off financial crises that could threaten banking systems in several EU member states.

The 25 ministers meeting in Luxembourg approved a Memorandum of Understanding, a non-legally binding document designed to step up exchanges of information among central banks with a view to preserving stability within countries, and at the level of the European Union as a whole. However the ministers were brought up short by British Finance Minister Gordon Brown’s refusal to give up his country’s rebate on contributions to the EU budget, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said. Ministers had been hoping that following Labour’s victory in a general election on May 5th Brown would agree to a phasing-out of the 4-billion euro annual rebate, granted 20 years ago when the British economy was less flourishing than it is now. “Mr Brown remains true to himself,” Juncker said. However the ministers agreed in principle on a modest tax on airplane tickets to fund aid to Africa and developing countries.