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More Spain & Portugal reform details needed

Source: Reuters - Thu 16th Dec 2010

Spain and Portugal should look to calm market tensions by giving EU leaders details of structural reforms they plan beyond existing deficit-cutting measures, euro zone finance ministers' chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said.

The Iberian countries "would do well today and tomorrow to present in detail structural reforms to be introduced beyond the plans of consolidation already announced," he said in an interview with Corriere della Sera published on Thursday.

Such details would help "clear up how they plan to put their own (fiscal) house in order, and calm market turbulence".

EU leaders kick off a two-day meeting later on Thursday at which they will try to agree the next steps in tackling a year-long debt crisis that threatens to engulf Portugal and possibly Spain.

The summit would show the determination of the bloc's leaders to ensure financial stability, and the debt crisis was bound to lead to closer integration and one day to joint bond issuance, Juncker told Frances's RTL radio in a separate interview.

He said euro zone governments had no choice but to consolidate public finances and he repeated his proposal, opposed for the time being by Germany and France, for a shift towards a degree of common sovereign bonds.

"We will show our desire to do everything to assure the financial stability of the zone," he said.

Meanwhile, Italy has no reason to be penalised by markets, Juncker told the Italian daily.

Signs of strength were Italy's approval of austerity measures and efforts to improve its public accounts. Centre-right Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi survived a no-confidence vote on Tuesday, aiding stability.

"From the political-financial point of view I see no reason for Italy to be punished by the markets. Especially now that the prospect of a government crisis is further away," Juncker said.

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