December 15, 2017 / 8:30 AM / a year ago

EU not in rush to reform euro zone as economy performing: Lithuanian president

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite arrives to attend the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is not under pressure to make quick changes to the way the euro zone works because the economy is doing well, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite said on Friday.

Entering a summit of EU leaders, that is to set the direction for talks on deeper euro zone integration over the next six months, Grybauskaite said:

“Negotiations will go ahead, especially if the circumstances of our economic development will be different. Today is quite a peaceful time so I think we will not be under pressure to be very, very fast.”

Among the ideas for deeper integration, which would help protect the economies of the 19 countries now sharing the euro, are a euro zone budget, a euro zone finance minister and parliament, transforming the euro zone bailout fund into a European Monetary Fund and a sovereign insolvency mechanism.

Grybauskaite said progress would be possible once more details were available.

“After we have clarification on the substance, the finance ministers’ position, functions (...) and how much we will be able to manage without changing European treaties. That is what will matter,” she said.

There is broad agreement among euro zone leaders that they need to strengthen the banking sector by gradually introducing a European-wide deposit guarantee scheme and backstopping a bank resolution fund. There is also support for turning the bailout fund into a European Monetary Fund.

But on other ideas French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have differing views. EU finance ministers will get until June 2018 to come up with compromises.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski and Robert-Jan Bartunek, Editing by William Maclean

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