Slovakia Rejects Euro PlanWorld | October 12, 2011, Wednesday // 07:12| views
Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova talks to journalists during a press briefing after the unsuccessful vote on extending the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). Photo by EPA/BGNES
Lawmakers in Slovakia rejected a plan late Tuesday to expand the powers of a bailout fund for banks and troubled European governments.
The development, which was tied to a vote of confidence in the government of Slovakian Prime Minister Iveta Radicova, is a bit of a setback for European leaders that are struggling to deal with the continent's growing debt crisis.
Slovakia is the only member of the 17 nation euro currency bloc that has not approved the plan to overhaul the bailout fund, known as the European Financial Stability Facility, or EFSF.
Tuesday's "no" vote does not necessarily mean that the plan to expand the EFSF is dead. But the vote means Radicova will resign. The incoming government could hold a second vote on Thursday or Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the Slovakian Parliament.
Increasing the power of the EFSF is viewed as a crucial first step towards strengthening the banking system in Europe and addressing a long-running sovereign debt crisis in Greece and several other euro zone nations.
Under an agreement reached in July, the ?440 billion fund will have greater powers to intervene in sovereign debt markets and provide funding for banks that need to raise capital.
Portugal and Ireland have already tapped the fund and officials have proposed using it to back a second ?109 billion bailout for Greece.
The revamped fund could also be used to buy government bonds issued by Italy, Spain and other nations struggling to pay down debt.
That would take some pressure off of the European Central Bank, which has been reluctantly intervening in the sovereign debt market for months.
The EFSF is also viewed as a potential lender of last resort for European banks.
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