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EU Ministers Agree to Guarantee Savings


European ministers have agreed to jointly guarantee billions of dollars in private savings during a crisis meeting in Luxembourg. Lisa Bryant reports from Paris the deal marks a key joint European measure to tackle the financial crisis.

After days of unilateral moves to shore up ailing financial institutions, the 27-bloc European Union came together in an agreement to guarantee up to $68,000 in individual private savings for a year.

The deal struck on the second day of an EU finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg fell short of expectations by some members of a guarantee over $100,000 of people's savings.

But French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde acknowledged it was hard to strike an accord that would meet differing expectations among EU members.

Lagarde told reporters that after lengthy debates, the European ministers were happy to agree on a statement that outlines eight ways to shore up financial institutions. All ministers wanted to take the necessary measures to enhance the stability of European banking systems and to protect deposits of individual savers.

European Economic Commissioner Joaquin Alumnia also stressed the importance of joint action. "We need first and foremost to avoid systemic risks, to limit the negative impact of these financial tensions in our real economies that are starting to suffer from the very strong financial tensions and we need to reinforce the economic instruments and the financial instruments at the European level. We need to reinforce the governance of Europe to cope with this financial situation," he said.

The ministers' announcement came as stock markets continued to roller coaster over various government and central bank efforts to calm the financial markets. Experts worry the financial crisis will take a larger toll on national economies - notably in terms of increasing unemployment and chances of recession.

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