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FRANCE 24 (France), CNN(USA)

Worldcrunch

FRANKFURT – European Union finance ministers have agreed on a deal giving the European Central Bank (ECB) new powers to supervise eurozone banks.

This agreement came early Thursday after the ministers held talks for more than 14 hours in Frankfurt following months of tense Franco-German divisions. All finance ministers from the European Union’s 27 countries agreed to hand the ECB direct oversight of at least 150 of the euro zone’s biggest bank.



The ECB will also be able to intervene with smaller lenders and borrowers at the first sign of trouble, reports France 24.

"This is a big first step for banking union," EU Commissioner Michel Barnier said. "The ECB will play the pivotal role, there’s no ambiguity about that."

The deal will indeed give the ECB the direct responsibility for banks with assets of more than 30 billion euros, or that represent more than a fifth of a state's national output.

The supervision plan is seen as the first step towards a eurozone banking union designed to reshape confidence, push cross-border bank lending and bring down high borrowing costs for peripheral banks, reports CNN.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, Sweden and other non-euro countries have won coveted safeguards to check the power of the ECB and will therefore maintain some influence over technical standards applying to all EU banks.

"We have reached the main points to establish a European banking supervisor that should take on its work in 2014," said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

European Union leaders, who meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, are now expected to give it their full political backing.

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