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EURO ZONE

Brussels sees Spain making a clean exit from bailout program

In political success story scenario, ECB also feels there will be no need to extend rescue loan’s maturity

Claudi Pérez

The European Commission (EC), the Eurogroup and the European Central Bank (ECB) now believe that owing to improved conditions in the sovereign debt market, Spain and Ireland stand a very good chance of exiting their bailout programs without the need for any further assistance.

Spain has drawn down 41 billion euros of a 100-billion loan from the European Stability Mechanism to clean up its banking sector and has said it wishes to terminate the bailout program in January of next year. It had been suggested that Madrid extend the availability of the loan beyond January as a safeguard, something that the conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejects.

If both Spain and Ireland were to exit their respective programs without the need for any further aid, it would be something of a success story for Brussels, while both the Spanish and Irish governments would be happy to end the stigma of having the so-called "men in black" of the EC, the ECB and IMF dictate policy to them.

The EU commissioner for economic affairs, Olli Rehn, said Monday it was "very probable" that Spain, and also Ireland, would not need further help. The president of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, and ECB Governing Council member Jörg Asmussen are of the same opinion.

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