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France beat Argentina 23-21 in Rugby World Cup

French eurozone rescue fund ruled out by Brussels ministers' meeting

media In Brussels - Evangelos Venizelos (Greece), François Baroin (France), Giulio … Reuters/Thierry Roge

Eurozone ministers meeting in Brussels have said no to France’s bid to boost the eurozone’s rescue fund by turning it into a bank that could draw money from the European Central Bank (ECB), according to Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees De Jager.

The Brussels meeting agreed to unlock eight billion euros in aid to Greece with finance ministers saying that banks and private investors must take a greater share of the costs.

The French proposal on the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) was at the heart of disagreement between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who were set to hold face-to-face talks late Saturday.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Germany wants to use the EFSF to insure investors against future losses in a bid to restore confidence in eurozone members’ bonds.

De Jager said Saturday that the French plan “is no longer an option”, but that two choices remained for “leveraging" the 4440-billion-euro EFSF into a trillion-euro-plus financial firewall that could protect Italy and other countries.

Neither would involve the central bank, he said.

The Brussels meeting was set to discuss bank recapitalisation on Saturday afternoon.

About 60 large banks are estimated to need 99 billion euros, according to French daily Le Monde, with French banks massively exposed and German ones slightly less.

According to business daily Les Echos, Greece’s private creditors accepted a “haircut” of 50-55 per cent, while a confidential report said that banks must accept a 60 per cent one.

The report also predicted that the bill for the Greek rescue package could be between 252 million and 444 million euros by 2030, the Financial Times says.

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