European Stability Mechanism to come into force

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European Stability Mechanism to come into force

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The Eurozone’s 500 billion euro rescue fund gets up-and-running today when finance ministers meet in Luxembourg.

The formal launch and inaugural board meeting of the European Stability Mechanism come amid growing uncertainty over Greece’s debt bailout and concerns that Spain will need help in turn.

It will become operational when participating countries have paid in their contributions. It will be able to lend 200 billion euros out of a potential 500 billion by the end of October.

The recapitalisation of banks could become more straightforward under the ESM, which should avoid any direct state liability.

Spain will be particularly interested in this, as it recapitalised its own banks to the tune of 100 billion euros last June. But Germany, the Netherlands and Finland say the mechanism must be fully operational before any funds are disbursed.