25 EU members to join treaty on rescue fund
Updated: 2012-01-31 07:30
BRUSSELS - A total of 25 European Union (EU) member states would join and sign a new fiscal treaty designed to enshrine tighter deficit and debt discipline, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said here late on Monday.
Britain and the Czech Republic are the two countries that would opt out, he said at a press conference that was originally focused on growth and employment in Europe amidst a debt crisis that still showed no sign of easing after plaguing the region for more than two years.
EU leaders agreed in December last year on the fiscal treaty which included a "structural deficit" of 0.5 percent of GDP and automatic sanctions for countries whose deficits top 3 percent of GDP.
Both Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said 17 eurozone states will sign the treaty in March.
"We call on finance ministers to sign it (the treaty for the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), or the permanent rescue fund, at the next Eurogroup meeting, so that it can take effect from July 2012," Van Rompuy said.
The 500-billion-euro ($661 billion) ESM will enter into force a year earlier than first planned, in a bid to better help indebted states out of the sovereign debt crisis across Europe.
"The early entry into force of this permanent firewall will prevent contagion in the euro area and further restore confidence," Van Rompuy added.