David Gow
The Guardian
October 4, 2008

The French premier, Francois Fillon, today warned that the world was “on the edge of the abyss” as his country moved into an official recession.

Fillon’s comments, blaming an “irresponsible” financial system, came as the Dutch government seized control of bancassurer Fortis’s Netherlands operations in a €16.8bn (£13.06bn) deal greed with the Belgian and Luxembourg authorities.

The effective nationalisation, forced upon the governments by the scale of the financial meltdown, includes Fortis’s interests in Dutch bank ABN Amro.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The shock decision came just days after the three governments injected €11.2bn into Fortis, Belgium’s biggest bank, to keep it afloat.

Fillon was speaking on the eve of today’s emergency summit of EU leaders in Paris to try to find collective ways of restoring confidence.

He said that the president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who called the talks, would propose that Europe “make its banking systems secure, unfreeze credit and co-ordinate its economic and monetary strategy”.

“We do not rule out any option to guarantee that no banking institution will be forced into bankruptcy. The state will intervene each time it’s necessary to secure our banking system,” he said. However, opposition from other governments has ruled out a US-style bail-out plan.

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