Vice President Olli Rehn European Commission
"I regret the inconsistent decision earlier today by Standard and Poor's concerning the rating of several euro area Member States, at a time when the euro area has taken decisive action in all fronts of its crisis response. These initiatives push forward the necessary fiscal consolidation and structural reform in our Member States, address the fragilities of the banking sector, reinforce our financial backstops and strengthen our economic governance. The recent EU decisions, combined with action by the ECB, have been instrumental in easing tensions in sovereign bonds markets.
It is now important to finalize as soon as possible the features and practicalities of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and, as decided by the Heads of State or Government on 9 December 2011, to advance its entry into force to July 2012. As noted earlier tonight by the President of the Eurogroup, the ESM will have its own capital base and thus will be less vulnerable to changes in ratings of its Member States. The Commission has repeatedly called for a reinforcement of our financial backstops, both in the scope of their activities – as it was agreed last year – and in its "firepower". The adequacy of the overall ceiling of the EFSF/ESM of €500 billion will be reassessed by March 2012."