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EU Decision on Firewalls `Important Step,' Passera Says

The European Union’s decision on so-called firewalls is a “very important step,” Italy’s Economic Development Minister Corrado Passera said.

“The higher they are, the less likely the need to use them,” Passera said of the firewalls today to reporters at a conference in Cernobbio, Italy.

Euro-area ministers, meeting in Copenhagen yesterday, set the maximum lending volume of the proposed European Stability Mechanism at 500 billion euros ($667 billion). Agreement was also reached on the combined lending ceiling of the ESM and the temporary fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, at 700 billion euros.

This, in addition to the 102 billion euros already paid to support current European rescue programs, brings the total size of the firewall to 800 billion euros, the Eurogroup said yesterday.

Passera also said that Italy’s government plans to create a “more competitive market” in the gas sector, adding that officials seek to “reach and exceed” the European Union target on renewable energy.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nadine Skoczylas in Rome at; Chiara Vasarri in Milan at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Davis at

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