* Finnish minister cautions on giving Athens time
* Says Spain not in such bad shape, will wait and see
* Questions need for "impossible" EU treaty change
(Releads with comments on Greece, Spain)
By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN, Sept 18 Finland is sceptical about
giving Greece more time to implement its bailout reforms,
especially if this will cost more money, although nothing should
be ruled out yet, the country's European Minister said on
Greece wants two more years to push through the terms tied
to its aid package and the Institute of International Finance
(IIF) earlier joined a chorus that includes the IMF in advising
that Athens be allowed soften the impact of the tough austerity.
However following reported comments by Austria's Finance
Minister on Sunday that Athens would only get "a few weeks", a
further tone of caution was added from another of the euro
zone's strict creditor countries.
"We are sceptical about giving more time, especially if it
means more money, but we should not exclude any options at this
stage," Alexander Stubb told reporters after speaking at an
event in Dublin.
While the head of the IIF said Spain should seek aid in
light of the ECB's plan of a potentially unlimited bond-buying
programme, Stubb said he did not think Spain was in such bad
shape but that he was reluctant to tell Madrid what to do.
"So far, so good and we should give a lot of credit. Whether
this will be enough or not, we don't know so we'll just have to
see. Moving up to the European Council in October, it's going to
be crucial to get things right, including on Spain," he said.
"TREATY CHANGE IMPOSSIBLE"
In a speech entitled 'Finland in Europe', Stubb also
questioned the need for a change to the European Union's treaty,
saying such a move would require too much time and raise
He was referring to calls by European Commission President
Jose Manuel Barroso last week for the European Union to be
turned into a 'federation of nation states', a vision he said
would require an overhaul of the Lisbon Treaty.
"I think the method of traditional treaty change has come to
the end of their road. I think it would be virtually impossible
to push through treaty change and I think it actually might put
the focus on the wrong foot," he said.
"I liked a lot of the stuff in Barroso's speech but the
focus on 'we will need treaty change' is the wrong one when we
have something probably a lot bigger at hand... It's important
to look at what you can do without treaty change."
A significant treaty change would trigger referendums, which
would increase uncertainty, he said.
Some members of the European Parliament, including committed
pro-Europeans such as former Belgian prime minister Guy
Verhofstadt, have also spoken out against Barroso's call, saying
the EU needed to deepen the structure already in place, not
become a federation of nation states.
Barroso, a former Portuguese prime minister, has said his
office would flesh out proposals for the future shape of the EU,
including the legal changes required to become a federation,
Stubb also said the European Commission was right in seeking
integrated supervision over the region's banks, but said such a
move would be "toothless" without the power to close non-viable
"Bank resolution needs to be a part of the plan," he said.
The Commission wants to give the European Central Bank
responsibility for monitoring all the euro zone's banks,
although Germany wants only the biggest, systemically important
banks to come under ECB supervision.
(Additional reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Ron Askew)