MUNICH: Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday reiterated Germany's view that the eurozone's bailout fund did not need fresh funds and said a decision on the issue would be taken at the end of the month.
Speaking to reporters after meeting top German bosses, Merkel said eurozone finance ministers had tasked the European Commission to come up with possible ways to bolster defences against the debt crisis.
The ministers were likely to consider this report at their next meeting in Copenhagen on March 30, she added, stressing: "A decision has not yet been taken."
"You can therefore expect that we will be able to say around the end of March how things stand. I will however state again that an increase in the permanent ESM rescue fund is not envisaged," Merkel said.
She said Europe would aim to agree a common line by the time the International Monetary Fund holds a meeting next month to decide whether to boost its own resources in response to the eurozone debt crisis.
Several IMF members have indicated they would be prepared to give more money to the fund but that the 17-nation eurozone must first put its hands in its pocket.
The IMF and the United States have called on the eurozone to boost the capacity of its permanent ESM fund which is due to come into force in July with a maximum level of 500 billion euros ($650 billion).
However, Berlin has resisted the calls to increase the war chest, arguing that the debt crisis has calmed down and poses less of a threat to countries like Italy and Spain -- the original reason behind establishing the fund.
Earlier on Friday, an EU source said eurozone countries were mulling the "least ambitious" boost to the firewall and were likely to settle for a maximum capacity of less than 700 billion euros.
"This is the most likely option because it is the least ambitious," the high-ranking Brussels official said on condition of anonymity.
"There are countries that remain opposed" to increasing rescue funding, he underlined in a reference to Germany. AGENCIES