FRANKFURT (MNI) – The rating agency Standard & Poor’s decision to
cut the rating for the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) from
AAA to AA+ will not hurt its lending capacity, Eurogroup chairman
Jean-Claude Juncker said Monday.

“S&P’s decision will not reduce EFSF’s lending capacity of E440
billion. EFSF has sufficient means to fulfill its commitments under
current and potential future adjustment programmes and will continue to
be backed by unconditional and irrevocable guarantees by euro area
member states,” Juncker said in a press release following the downgrade.

Juncker reminded that heads of state or government had already
decided to advance the introduction of the permanent stability mechanism
ESM to July 2012.

“The ESM will have its own capital base and thus be less affected
by ratings of euro area member states. The adequacy of the overall
lending ceiling of the EFSF/ESM of E500 billion will be reassessed by
March 2012,” Juncker said.

S&P’s decision to downgrade the Eurozone’s rescue fund follows a
downgrade on Friday of more than half of the Eurozone’s member states
that back the fund and had been widely expected.

EFSF still has the best possible credit rating by Moody’s (Aaa) and
Fitch (AAA).

–Frankfurt newsroom +49 69 72 01 42; e-mail:

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