HIGHLIGHTS-Euro zone finance ministers' comments

BRUSSELS, March 12 Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:19pm EDT

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BRUSSELS, March 12 (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers met in Brussels on Monday on a second bailout for Greece and to shift their focus to Spain, whose government looks set to violate newly agreed EU budget rules by missing its deficit target again this year.

A weekend swap of Greece's privately held bonds paved the way for euro zone ministers to give the final go-ahead to a 130-billion-euro package to finance Athens until 2014, after they decided on Friday that Greece had met all their conditions.

Following are comments by officials and ministers after the meeting:

EUROGROUP PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER

ON EURO ZONE FIREWALLS:

"I do think that the firewall has to be increased and the Commission has been asked today to provide us with proposals in order to enable us to take a decision by the end of this month."

ON SPANISH BUDGET DEFICIT:

"We agreed tonight that Spain will stick to the budgetary target of 3.0 percent (of GDP) in 2013 and will be on a consolidation path between now and then of the order of 0.5 percent of GDP.

"It will be the responsibility of the Spanish authorities to choose the initiatives that will have to be taken in order to bring down the budgetary deficit in 2012, what is most important is what is the target for 2013. What is less important, but nevertheless important, are the avenues chosen in 2012."

ON EUROGROUP LEADERSHIP:

"I will not respond to any questions related to that (my succession)."

ON GREEK FINANCING:

"As agreed, new official financing of 130 billion euros will be committed by the euro area and the IMF for the period 2012-2014. Overall it is an unprecedented amount of official financing that is being committed to securing Greece's future in the euro area, which is without any doubt.

"Greece will be a member of the euro area whatever will happen.

"We look forward to a significant contribution from the IMF, to be decided later this week."

ON IMF CONTRIBUTION:

"We welcome the (IMF's) proposal to recommend a 28 billion (contribution) to the Greek facility. We look forward to the discussion and the decision by the IMF board on March 15.

"We are depending on the decision to be made as soon as this point is concerned by the board of the IMF, I am quite confident that the decision will point in the right direction, but we are still dependent on that decision.

"Against this background, we approved the launch of the second programme, pending the completion of the national procedures."

ON GREECE'S SECOND PACKAGE AND BONDHOLDER LOSSES (PSI):

"We were discussing the second programme for Greece, including of course the PSI issue. With the completion of the prior actions and the successful PSI operation, the new Greek programme is not only in its starting blocks but has been politically adopted tonight by the Eurogroup.

"The formalisation of this approval by principle will intervene next Wednesday when the EWG (Euro Zone Working Group) - the deputies of the finance ministers - will meet, checking if all the internal national procedures will have been fulfilled."

ON PARTICIPATION IN PSI, AND GREEK DEBT:

"We welcome the high private sector participation in Greece's debt exchange offer. According to (EU/IMF) troika forecasts, the successful PSI operation will allow the Greek debt-to-GDP ratio to decline to 117 percent in 2020. You will have compare this to recent Council decisions aiming at reaching a level of 121.5 percent.

"We agreed that this better than expected outcome should not be spent by the Greek authorities but kept as a buffer."

Following are earlier comments by officials and ministers ahead of the meeting:

SPANISH ECONOMY MINISTER LUIS DE GUINDOS

ON SPANISH BUDGET AND DEFICIT:

"What Spain is going to do today is going to explain the figures for the close of 2011 and simultaneously we are going to present our consolidation and reform efforts for 2013."

"Spain's commitment to the fiscal rules is absolute."

"I don't think there is any doubt over Spain's commitment to budget adjustments at a complex time. We are seeing a recession, not only in Spain, but also in Europe, and obviously the basic issue is to return to growth and get people back into jobs."

AFTER MEETING GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE IN BRUSSELS ON MONDAY:

"I think he values what we are doing, the reforms and the budget adjustment efforts. It was an extremely open meeting, pleasant and very constructive."

"Spain's position is that two things have changed. The first: last year there was a deviation of 2.5 (percent) in the public deficit and the second, that the circumstances in terms of economic growth have changed significantly.

"From 2.3 percent growth, we are going to have a fall in economic activity of 1.7 percent. (Euro zone finance ministers) understand that perfectly and they value Spain's efforts.

"Spain is going to compensate what was not done last year, in terms of its structural adjustment and what it committed to this year. It is an effort in structural terms of more than 3 (percentage) points. The German finance minister values that as well as Spain's commitment to reach (a fiscal deficit of) 3 percent in 2013, which is obviously an important effort."

FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER FRANCOIS BAROIN

ON SECOND GREEK BAILOUT:

"I think that this week it is reasonable (to think that Greece will get its second bailout). I think we've made enormous progress. All the conditions have come together today to deliver the new support plan for Greece. But Greece must obviously live up to its commitments, in the parliament, on the reforms."

"We will, like all creditors, require regular updates on the programme implementation. We expect the Greek government, the political class, TO show the way."

ON SITUATION IN SPAIN:

"We support the government, it is courageous and is benefiting from a political consensus that you don't see in all countries. Their debt is relatively low and they need support."

"(We expect from Spain today) their presentation (on their fiscal plans), their methodology, their calendar, their objectives. We will work with them."

"For Spain and for all countries with a slowing economy or a high deficit, there's a focus on budget austerity. So it is up to countries to think about the best ways to generate growth, but at least for now the way to do that is to reduce deficits and make savings. There is no other path. Any other line doesn't take into account the reality of the world economy today."

AUSTRIAN FINANCE MINISTER MARIA FEKTER

ON FINANCIAL TRANSACTION TAX:

"We've got very, very big agreement amongst euro zone countries and we hope we'll be able to convince the Dutch. I'd rather we implemented it in Europe as a whole. But Sweden and Britain are a bit tough on that.

"We are fighting to get a tax by 2014. We'll consult on the details today and tomorrow. The official starting shot regarding an investigation on this will then be given. We in Austria expect the first money from this tax in 2015."

ON SITUATION IN GREECE:

"The (debt swap) has stabilised the euro zone and that's good for all euro states. We took a big step in terms of confidence in the euro zone. We hope that this debt reduction will help Greece to new growth, because if there are growth and jobs will the Greeks will be able to tap the markets.

"That means relief, even though as Austrian finance minister we are very painfully aware that this cost us a lot of money."

ON SITUATION IN SPAIN:

"We'll have to draft a plan with Spain to prevent an excessive deficit 2013."

ASKED ABOUT CONCESSIONS FOR SPAIN ON BUDGET DEFICIT TARGETS:

"No, Spain has to make an effort. We are also monitoring the other states so we won't modify the first time round. We've got to be tough in the first round of monitoring so that everyone knows we're serious...

"Everyone has to stick to (the agreed budget consolidation)."

GREEK FINANCE MINISTER EVANGELOS VENIZELOS

ON GREEK BOND SWAP FOR PRIVATE BONDHOLDERS (PSI):

"The private sector involvement for the restructuring and the sustainability of the Greek public debt was a successful story. Until now the participation is 96 percent. Now we are waiting for the response of the market... for the last four percent of holders, for Greek bonds of foreign law.

"The market understands very well that the acceptance of our offer is the unique choice, the smart and profitable choice.

"I am very optimistic for universal particpation in the PSI, from our side, the target is now the full implementation of the programme and, of course, the return of Greece to growth."

EUROGROUP PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER

ON SPANISH BUDGET AND DEFICIT:

"We expect Spain will achieve its budget goals in 2013 and that it wants to achieve them."

ON CAPACITY OF EUROPEAN STABILITY MECHANISM (ESM) PERMANENT BAILOUT FUND:

"We will discuss the entire issue but there will be no decision today. I will recommend that the decision will be taken in a Eurogroup meeting in Copenhagen at the end of the month."

GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE

ON SITUATION IN SPAIN:

"I'm seeing my Spanish colleague (now). He's relatively new in office so we wanted to take some time today to have a more intensive exchange in private."

ASKED IF SPAIN IS THE NEXT GREECE:

"Most certainly not, most certainly not. Greece is a completely unique case. We saw that in the past two years.

"Spain has made great progress. Financial markets also see it that way, but of course we're all still on a tough path but the experiences and developments of the past weeks and months show we are on the right path and we're all determined to continue this path successfully."

ON GREECE:

"We'll hear about the bond swap today but it seems everything worked out well. Then the last formal conditions have to be completed, then we have to inform the budget committee of the Bundestag again but materially there is no doubt, the second Greek package will be signed in the course of the week."

ON FINANCIAL TRANSACTION TAX:

"We agreed in November to discuss the tax in March... We'll debate this tomorrow... There certainly won't be decisions tomorrow." (Reporting by Annika Breidthardt, Robin Emmott, John O'Donnell, Ben Deighton, Claire Davenport)

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