Meanwhile, 11 countries agreed to coordinate the implementation of a financial transaction tax: Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. They still need to work out the details, though the EU Commission has suggested that trades in bonds and shares be taxed at 0.1 percent and trades in derivatives be taxed at 0.01 percent. Other countries could join later if they want to.
It’s still unclear exactly how the funds raised would be used, although some supporters of the tax have suggested they could create a security net for banks and help to fund the EU’s budget.
France and Germany, which led the charge for the tax, had originally hoped it would be adopted by the whole European Union — but several countries, like the Britain and the Netherlands, expressed concern about its economic impact.
As was expected, the finance ministers also approved a break for Portugal on its deficit reduction targets. The country, which is funding itself with a €78 billion bailout — will reduce its deficit to 4.5 percent next year and 2.5 percent in 2014. It was originally supposed to be under 3 percent by 2013.
David Montero and David McHugh contributed to this report. Don Melvin can be reached at http://twitter.com/Don_Melvin and Sarah DiLorenzo can be reached at http://twitter.com/sdilorenzo .