Spain ready for bailout, Germany signals ‘wait’
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Spain is ready to request a euro zone bailout for its public finances as early as next weekend but Germany has signalled that it should hold off, European officials said.
The latest twist in the euro zone's three-year-old sovereign debt crisis comes as financial markets and some other European partners are pressuring Madrid to seek a rescue programme that would trigger European Central Bank buying of its bonds. "The Spanish were a bit hesitant but now they are ready to request aid," a senior European source said. Three other senior euro zone sources confirmed the shift in the Spanish position, all speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter.
German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said Spain is taking all the right steps to overcome its fiscal problems and does not need a bailout, arguing that investors will recognise and reward Spanish reforms in due course.
Privately, several European diplomats and a senior German source said chancellor Angela Merkel preferred to avoid putting more individual bailouts for distressed euro zone countries to her increasingly reluctant parliament.
"It doesn't make sense to send looming decisions on Greece, Cyprus and possibly also Spain to the Bundestag one by one," the senior German source said. "Bundling these together makes sense, due to the substance and also politically."
Participants said there were tense exchanges at a euro zone ministerial meeting in Cyprus in mid-September when Schaeuble told his peers Berlin could not take another bailout for Spain to parliament so soon after lawmakers approved up to 100 billion euros to help Spanish banks in July.
Asked about the reports that Germany was urging Spain to wait, a German government spokesman told Reuters: "Every country decides for itself. Germany isn't pushing in one direction or the other." A spokeswoman for Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said she was not aware of any veto from Germany for an aid request.
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