EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

This story about a possible bailout for Irish banks was published by EurActiv on 17th November 2010.

Ireland has started talks with EU authorities and the IMF over a rescue plan focusing on the restructuring of its banking sector, the bloc’s finance ministers said yesterday (16 November), hoping to calm fears of a contagion to other eurozone members in difficulty.

Eurozone finance ministers agreed on Tuesday to lay the groundwork for a bailout of Ireland with the IMF, but said Dublin must decide itself whether to request the aid.

The ministers said they had agreed the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund would this week start a mission to Ireland, whose debt crisis could threaten other eurozone states and the euro area’s stability.

Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker, who chaired Tuesday’s talks, said the 16-nation currency bloc was ready to act if Ireland makes a request.

“It is up to the Irish government to make up its mind” on whether to use the 440 billion euro European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) set up in May at the height of the Greek debt crisis, Juncker said.

“The discussions that will take place between Ireland and the Commission and the ECB and the IMF will enable us to have at our disposal all the elements and instruments we need were Ireland to make a request for assistance to the EU, the IMF and the Eurogroup,” he told a news conference after the talks.

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