As part of efforts to bolster eurozone
firewalls, payments into the currency bloc's new bailout fund will be
completed by "the first half of 2014," three years earlier than
originally planned, euro area finance ministers announced on Friday.
The European Stability Mechanism (ESM), due to be launched in July, is to have a 500-billion-euro ($667 billion) capacity. But that firepower will only be reached once eurozone governments provide 80 billion euros in hard cash to back up the ESM's reserves.
The original plan was for payments to be staggered over five years, meaning that the ESM would have only reached its headline 500-billion-euro target in 2017.
Instead, the first two instalments will be made in 2012; two more in 2013; and a final one by June 2014, the Eurogroup panel of eurozone finance ministers said in a statement.
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