German officials: Bailout fund will top $1.4 trln

By Melissa Eddy

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 24 2011 8:05 a.m. MDT

BERLIN — The eurozone bailout fund's firepower is set to be leveraged to more than €1 trillion ($1.39 trillion), German opposition leaders said Monday following a briefing with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Governments from the 17-nation eurozone hope that the €440 billion European Financial Stability Fund, or EFSF, will be able to protect countries like Italy and Spain from being engulfed in the debt crisis.

To do that, however, it needs to be bigger or see its lending powers magnified.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, parliamentary leader of the opposition Social Democrats, and the Greens' Cem Oezdemir said the chancellor informed them that the EFSF will be leveraged well beyond its current size.

That would be achieved through a combination of measures, Steinmeier said. It would insure investors against a percentage of possible losses on eurozone government bonds and also involve the participation of outside organizations such as the International Monetary Fund.

Because of the significance of the move, members of Merkel's party proposed that the change receive full parliamentary approval on Wednesday. Under German law, it would have been enough for parliament's budget committee to approve the plan.

The chancellor briefed lawmakers on Monday about the progress of the eurozone rescue plans following the weekend's EU summit.

German lawmakers are set to receive the detailed guidelines of the EFSF later Monday.

The German parliament is to sign off on the eurozone rescue plans and the EFSF's new powers before Merkel gives the final green light at a European Union summit in Brussels later Wednesday.

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