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Finland’s bailout payments ease as euro crisis passes peak

The worst may be over for Finland in terms of its backing for euro zone bailout loans for European Union countries in financial trouble. Last year Finland took on no new loan bailout responsibilities.

The most promising sign of the euro crisis abating occurred shortly before Christmas, when Ireland decided to forgo further applications for assistance. Ireland's decision did not go unnoticed by Finland's Ministry of Finance, who took it as a sign that the worst of the crisis may be over.

According to Pekka Morén, Financial Counsellor for the Ministry of Finance, 2013 was a positive year for Finland, as it entered into no new bailout loan commitments.

Finland has contributed to euro zone rescue operations in many ways: 1.44 billion euros was invested as capital in a permanent fund crisis, while a temporary crisis fund of 7.6 billion took the form of guarantees. Direct loans to Iceland and Greece totalled another 1.1 billion.

The good news

More than a third of the loan extended to Iceland has been recovered, while a significant proportion of the European Financial Stability Facilities loan guarantees have remained unused, along with half of the 100-billion-euro financial assistance package that was set aside for Spain. The margin on the Greek loan has been lowered, meaning that no interest income will be realized on the 10 million euro loan.

The crisis may be abating, but it is far from over. The world watches with anticipation to see how Portugal and Greece will maintain their savings programmes as they enter the home stretch. Financing has already been given some leeway, with optional adjustments to repayment periods, for example. Ireland has already extended its loan repayment twice, from seven years to 22.

Morén says that European finance leaders will meet this spring to consider if further steps are necessary, but all signs indicate that the euro zone financial crisis may be resolving. To date, the euro crisis has not gone as badly as some feared. But for those people lining up at unemployment centres, the crisis is hardly over.

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Alexander Stubb hymyilee.

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