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Vienna, 08 October 2012 Fekter welcomes entry into force of the ESM: "We are on the right path." Fekter: "No cause for celebration, however, as we are still in the middle of stabilising the Eurozone."

Minister of Finance Dr. Maria Fekter sees the ESM as a key crisis management tool: "Europe has found a mechanism that also enables it to manage problems at the country level."

Entry into force of the ESM lays a foundation for the continued future existence of the Economic and Monetary Union. "We like our currency, the euro. In the future, the European Central Bank will protect not only the euro, but the Eurozone as well", continued the Minister.

According to Fekter, however, a great deal of work still needs to be done; country budgets have to be consolidated. "We also know, however, that we have accomplished a great deal already. A number of European countries now have primary surpluses and have made at least a reasonable start on handling their budgets", stated the Finance Minister optimistically.

When asked whether EUR 500 billion would be sufficient for the ESM, Fektor answered: "Today we will approve a transfer of funds from the EFSF to the ESM, when the EFSF expires next July. This will give us a total of precisely EUR 700 billion, no more and no less." In any case, the starting signal given by the Board of Governors and the meeting of the Board of Directors mean that the ESM is ready for action.

If Cyprus submits a request for assistance, it could already be provided by the ESM. "A number of discussions are currently taking place with respect to Cyprus and, potentially, Slovenia. Spain has only submitted a request for bank assistance, and was already provided EUR 100 billion in July. But we expect to learn today that Spain needs considerably less and the 100 billion will not be fully used. Spain has made no requests other than this to date."

"Although we are not entirely out of the problem zone yet, we are a great deal closer to achieving stability", stated Fekter with respect to the Eurozone. She feels that systematic deficit reduction must continue in the future. "We have to ensure the debt doesn't grow until we are over our heads in Europe, but is instead steadily reduced. By instituting a debt limit and following a path of consolidation until 2016, Austria has already started on the right path", concluded Fekter..