German court must decide on rescue fund by Sept: Juncker

BERLIN Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:55pm EDT

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker does not expect Germany's top court to block the new version of the euro zone's ESM bailout fund and believes judges are aware of the need for a verdict before a new round of crisis meetings in September.

The Constitutional Court agreed on Tuesday to examine complaints lodged against the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and financial markets have been unsettled by the prospect of it taking up to three months before it comes to a decision.

"I think (the judges) know the maximum timeframe in which we have to operate," Juncker told German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel. The magazine said he was referring to decisions to be taken in September on Greece's 130 billion euro bailout.

Juncker said last week that Greece would get enough funds to meet its financing requirements over the summer before ministers meet in September to discuss Athens' request for more time to get its public finances in order under the terms of the bailout.

Financial markets had hoped the court decision - which blocks the implementation of the latest round of measures taken by the euro zone to deal with the debt crisis - would be a question of at most weeks.

"The constitutional question has also come up in other euro zone countries. In Estonia the bailout fund was examined by the top court and was confirmed. I therefore do not expect the judges in Karlsruhe to block it," Schaueble added, saying that the delay in the decision was "not helpful".

Juncker rejected the idea of splitting the presidency of the Eurogroup between France and Germany and said he wanted German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to succeed him as Eurogroup president.

"In my opinion Schaeuble meets all of the criteria to become Eurogroup president," he was quoted as saying.

A long-running battle over a series of senior European posts ended in June with the reappointment of Juncker, but he has indicated he would not want to serve the full 2-1/2 year term, meaning the issue is likely to come up again.

Asked if it would be better if Greece left the single currency bloc, Juncker, who is also Luxembourg's prime minister, said: "The fact is that the Greek government has not implemented the program as agreed. It's clear it will cost more money if we give Greece more time to fulfill the agreed targets."

"That raises two questions. Firstly are Europeans prepared to put up extra resources? And secondly will the International Monetary Fund on board? I can't answer this question until that has been clarified," he was quoted as saying.

Juncker said he was in favor of introducing a European president who would be directly elected by EU citizens and suggested merging the roles of EU council president and EU commission president.

"The Lisbon Treaty does not prevent that - it would be the prelude to a European President," he was quoted as saying.

He said it would be "sensible" to introduce a European finance minister and added that the roles of EU currency commissioner and Eurogroup head could be merged.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; editing by Patrick Graham)

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