ECB to take charge of euro banks

EUROPEAN Union finance ministers have agreed to put the European Central Bank in charge of all eurozone banks in a deal that paves the way for the currency bloc's stability fund to provide direct bailouts.

EUROPEAN Union finance ministers have agreed to put the European Central Bank in charge of all eurozone banks in a deal that paves the way for the currency bloc's stability fund to provide direct bailouts.

EU Financial Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said the supervisor should be ready by March 2014, with about 200 banks automatically qualifying for direct ECB oversight. In the interim, the €500 billion ($A620 billion) European Stability Mechanism could aid banks directly using its own procedures and asking ECB supervisors to step in.

Mr Barnier called the accord a "a fundamental element for financial stability in Europe". He said the ECB would have total access to banking information and would give equal treatment to non-euro nations that join the oversight system.

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