Commission president Barroso to put forward eurobonds

Jose Manuel Barroso: "The measures have taken too long and they have not been fully delivered"

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has said he will put forward moves to tackle the eurozone debt crisis, which he called "the most serious challenge of a generation".

He said he would urge the 17 eurozone nations to issue joint bonds, allowing them to borrow money collectively.

Eurobonds have been backed by Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti and investor George Soros.

However, Germany has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the idea.

His comments came ahead of an emergency conference call between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

They moved to ease market concerns over Greece by saying it was an "integral" member of the eurozone.

'Federalist moment'

"I want to confirm that the Commission will soon present options for the introduction of eurobonds," he said.

"Some of these could be implemented within the terms of the current treaty, and others would require treaty changes."

However, Mr Barroso emphasised that the measure on its own was not enough to solve the eurozone debt crisis.

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Fear is coursing through the corridors of Brussels.”

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He said Europe needed a "federalist moment" to rescue it.

"This is a fight for the economic and political future of Europe... this is a fight for integration itself," he said.

Speaking to the European Parliament, Mr Barroso said that the political process in the eurozone - dominated as it is by the heads of the 17 member governments - was too slow for impatient markets.

He argued that the solution to the crisis would have to involve the "Community method" - implying more centralised decision-making.

'Interesting development'

Meanwhile, in a surprise reversal of traditional roles, five big developing countries are to discuss providing financial support to Europe.

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are to meet at the annual World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) summit next week, according to Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega.

Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, called it an "interesting development" and "acceptable hypothesis" for the Fund.

"But if they limit themselves to buying bonds deemed safe by everyone, like the German and British, they wouldn't be taking much risk," she told Italian newspaper La Stampa.

"My hope is that if interventions like this take place, that they'll be large and not limited to certain states."

China's president, Wen Jiabao, said that his country stood ready to help, but only if the eurozone got its act together.

"The governments of all countries must truly shoulder their responsibilities and deal properly with their own affairs," he said, speaking at the World Economic Forum at Dalian in China.

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