| SAARISELKA, Finland, March 24
SAARISELKA, Finland, March 24 Euro zone bailouts
are getting tougher to agree as opposition within creditor
nations grows and indebted states struggle to persuade citizens
to back austerity, policymakers said on Sunday.
At a meeting in Finnish Lapland this weekend, attendees
including Ireland's Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton and host
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen sounded confident that Cyprus
would secure a bailout deal to avoid financial collapse.
But they added the crisis was a reminder of the work needed
to make sure EU member states stand by shared fiscal targets.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, president of Estonia which joined the
euro in 2011, said many saw bailouts as unfair.
"The result has been, over time, a decreasing willingness on
the part of governments to go along with bailing out because
their publics are not wiling to go along with it, and so their
parliaments are not going along with it," he said.
"It's going to get harder and harder to get things such as
EFSF and ESM (bailout funds) passed in parliaments if we don't
see more responsibility taken by those who need assistance."
In Finland, one of the few remaining countries in the euro
zone to be rated triple-A by all major credit rating agencies,
the anti-euro Finns Party has become a major opposition force,
with voters viewing bailouts of countries such as Greece and
Portugal as a reward for profligacy.
"When it's a union of values, it means that we have to have
a strong sense of fairness," Katainen said. "One of the reasons
we are in a crisis is that everybody did not follow the rules."
The small Nordic economy endured a wave of bankruptcies and
years of austerity after a banking crisis in the early 1990s.
That experience, as well as the rise of the Finns Party in 2011
elections, has forced the broadly pro-Europe government to take
a tough stance on bailouts.
Finnish European affairs minister Alexander Stubb said the
Cyprus deal, expected to "bail in" top bank depositors, would
mark a step away from previous rescue packages by forcing
investors to share the burden, as countries such as Finland and
Germany have demanded.
"We're going towards the system of a bail-in, and I think
that's the message that's being sent in this particular rescue
package," he said of the Cyprus bailout.
Stubb said the worst of Europe's debt crisis was over,
although he didn't rule out some flare ups.
"We are going to get a few market turbulences still, it's
quite clear, but it's not as fundamental or systemic as the ones
we had when we had other countries on the brink," he said.
Ireland's Creighton said the experience in Ireland, which is
expected to exit its bailout programme this year after over two
years of fiscal reforms, proved that bitter austerity medicine
worked when applied with honesty.
(Editing by Mark Potter)