The euro area on Monday launched its permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), as "part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure financial stability in the currency union," Eurogroup chief said.
"We took today in a very swift way a number of well-prepared decisions and resolutions to made sure that the ESM can function in a proper way," Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker said at a press conference.
The about $653 billion (500-billion-euro) permanent bailout fund is designed to provide financing to distressed eurozone members if they are committed to strict fiscal and structural reforms that aim to put economies that have lost investor trust back on track.
As chairman of the ESM's board of governors, Juncker hailed the launch of the fund as "a historic milestone in shaping the future of the European Monetary Union and the euro area."
"Now it (the eurozone) is equipped with a permanent and effective firewall which is a crucial component in our comprehensive strategy to ensure financial stability in the currency union," Juncker told reporters as the eurozone finance ministers kicked off their meeting.
"The introduction of the ESM has closed a gap in the euro area's institutional architecture. The ESM itself will certainly be regarded as a reassuring presence within and outside the European Monetary Union," he added.
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