* Merkel says shared debt "wrong"
* Spain formally requests bank aid, number to come later
* Some believe deal is prelude to full bailout of state
* Spanish and Italian bond yields start to rise again
By Andreas Rinke and Julien Toyer
BERLIN/MADRID, June 25 German Chancellor Angela
Merkel dashed any lingering hope in financial markets that
Europe would issue common euro zone bonds to underpin its single
currency after Spain formally became the fourth state to request
a financial rescue.
The Spanish government applied for bailout loans on Monday
to recapitalise banks laden with bad debts as the euro and
shares fell due to investors' scepticism that a European Union
summit this week will act decisively on the bloc's debt crisis.
Merkel, who leads Europe's biggest economy and the main
contributor to its rescue funds, said sharing debt liability
within the 17-nation euro area would be "economically wrong and
At a two-day Brussels summit starting on Thursday leaders
w ill d iscuss a cross-border banking union, closer fiscal
integration and the possibility of a debt redemption fund, as
part of efforts to tackle a worsening debt crisis.
France, Italy and Spain have pushed hard for steps towards
mutualising debts and liabilities through a joint bank deposit
guarantee, a common bank resolution fund and issuing common euro
zone bonds. The con servative Ger man lea der adamantly re jects
such ideas and is keen to squelch them before the meeting.
"When I think of the summit I feel concerned that yet again
we will have too much focus on all kinds of ways of sharing
debt," Merkel to ld a conference in Berlin.
Critics say that by refusing any such collective solutions,
Berlin risks unleashing speculative attacks on Spanish and
Italian bonds, hastening rescues which the euro zone's rescue
funds are too small to manage.
Spanish and Italian bond yields rose on Monday as doubts
spread that the EU summit would take any decisive action to stem
the debilitating crisis, which began in late 2009. The euro fell
against the dollar and investors sought shelter in U.S.
Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos asked for up to 100
billion euros ($125 billion) in a letter to Eurogroup chairman
Jean-Claude Juncker, saying the final amount of assistance would
be set at a later stage.
He confirmed his intention to sign a Memorandum of
Understanding for the package by July 9 and said the amount
should be enough to cover all banks' needs, plus an additional
The EU's top economic official, Olli Rehn, said a deal on
terms for the loan from Europe's bailout funds could be
concluded within weeks.
"The policy conditionality of the financial assistance, in
the form of an EFSF/ESM loan, will be focused on specific
reforms targeting the financial sector, including restructuring
plans which must fully comply with EU state aid rules," he said.
The rescue, agreed on June 9, is intended to help Spanish
lenders recover from the effects of a burst real estate bubble
and a recession, which have piled up bad loans and sinking
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told business leaders he would
soon take new measures to revive economic growth and create
jobs. He gave no details but said the government remained
committed to cutting the public deficit.
Two independent audits last week put the Spanish banks'
capital needs in a severe economic downturn at up to 62 billion
euros, and a fuller audit will be delivered in September.
Some market economists believe the rescue is merely a
prelude to a full bailout for the Spanish state, which saw its
borrowing costs soar to euro era record levels above 7 percent
early last week, although they have eased to below 6.50 percent.
A working document prepared by top European Union officials
calls for the gradual introduction of a banking union, starting
with supervisory power for the European Central Bank and
developing a deposit guarantee scheme based on pooling national
systems, with a levy-funded bank resolution fund.
Berlin has so far rejected any joint deposit guarantee or
resolution fund, as well as proposals that euro zone governments
should assume joint responsibility for each other's debts.
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble hammered home this
message in weekend interviews, saying that throwing more money
at the crisis would not solve the problems, and telling Greece
it must try harder rather than seeking to soften bailout terms.
"We have to fight the causes," Schaeuble told German TV
network ZDF. "Anyone who believes that money alone or bailouts
or any other solutions, or monetary policy at the ECB - that
will never resolve the problem. The causes have to be resolved."
He cited Ireland and Portugal as countries that were
succeeding in their EU/IMF adjustment programmes and said Greece
had not made a sufficient effort.
Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will have one
more try at narrowing their differences before the summit on
Thursday and Friday.
But the German leader has shown no sign of relenting in her
refusal to take on new liabilities for German taxpayers until
other euro zone states agree to hand more sovereignty over
national budgets and economic policies to EU institutions.
Hollande took the opposite position on Friday, saying there
could be no more transfer of sovereignty until there was greater
"solidarity" in the EU.
The two-day EU summit will be the 20th time leaders have met
to try to resolve a crisis that has spread across the continent
since it began in Greece in early 2010.
Greece's new prime minister Antonis Samaras and his finance
minister Vassilis Rapanos will both miss the summit, and a visit
by "troika" inspectors representing the country's international
creditors due this week has been postponed.
Samaras is recovering from eye surgery he underwent on
Saturday and Rapanos is in hospital after suffering from nausea
before he could be sworn in.
The German spokesman said no decisions would be taken on
Greece at the summit as the "troika" inspectors from the
European Commission, ECB and the International Monetary Fund
must first assess Greek compliance with its 130 billion euro
bailout agreement before any renegotiation could be considered.
The Samaras government, which was sworn in last week, has
called for the renegotiation of the terms of Greece's bailout,
which is keeping the country from bankruptcy but at the cost of
great economic suffering.
Ireland and Portugal have also required sovereign bailouts
and the crisis now threatens Spain and Italy. Cyprus, one of the
euro zone's two smallest economies which is heavily exposed to
Greece, is also on the brink of needing a rescue.
Cyprus's president has convened a meeting of the country's
political leaders on Tuesday to discuss economic issues amid
speculation that it may request assistance after ratings agency
Fitch cut its sovereign debt to non-investment
The euro zone has set up two rescue funds to try to contain
the crisis, the temporary EFSF and the permanent ESM, due to
come into force next month, but markets have so far judged that
they contain too little money and their rules are too inflexible
to be effective.