IMF chief says bank union needs to be completed quickly

Reuters
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Lagarde attends a conference in Paris
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International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde attends the conference "Designing a European fiscal union" in Paris, September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

PARIS (Reuters) - International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde urged euro zone governments on Tuesday to make quick progress on their proposed banking union, to put the bloc's crisis definitively behind it.

European efforts to construct a joint backstop for the region are stumbling ahead, with France and Germany split on key pillars of the system, which is supposed to rebuild confidence in the euro zone's banks.

"We very much think of the euro area as a beautiful ship that has been built, nurtured .. for the soft seas, but which is not yet completely finished for the rough ones," Lagarde said at a conference in Paris.

"A lot has been done in relation to banking union. If I have a message today it is that that particular part of the ship needs to be finished, needs to be completed and speed is of the essence."

She said governments could not count exclusively on the easy monetary policy of the European Central Bank to stabilize the euro zone's debt crisis and that the foundations of better governance, of which banking union is a part, were vital.

Speaking at the same conference focused on budgetary union in Europe, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said France wanted a roadmap towards the creation of a federal euro zone budget over the medium term.

He said such a budget could be used to jointly finance unemployment insurance schemes and could be paid for using a variety of national or joint euro zone sources.

"We can consider using social charges, corporate or sales tax or levies on financial transactions, or a joint carbon emissions tax," he said.

(Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Leigh Thomas; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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