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ECB Clarifies Constancio Remarks About EU, IMF Role in Spain

The European Central Bank issued a clarification of comments made by Vice President Vitor Constancio that suggested Spain was working with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund on an aid program.

“There’s been an agreement between the troika and Spain, and the program is being applied, structural reforms were introduced, so in our view our scenario is being pursued, and we have no reason so far to change that view,” Constancio told reporters in Brussels today.

His comments referred to reports on the Spanish economy published by the IMF and the EU, an ECB spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement.

Teams from the so-called troika of IMF, ECB and the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, have been deployed to negotiate and monitor bailout programs in Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Officially, there is no troika team operating in Spain.

Officials at the Spanish Economy Ministry, the commission and the IMF didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

Constancio’s remarks came as Spain struggles to bat away investors’ concerns that it will eventually have to seek an international bailout to fix its troubled banks. Standard & Poor’s yesterday cut its rating on Spain by two levels to BBB+, citing concern that the country will need to pour more money into its lenders.

It’s the second time in less than a year that Constancio has had to clarify comments made to reporters. In June 2011, he issued a statement rephrasing earlier comments about the ECB’s stance on a Greek debt restructuring.

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