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Not the headlines Gollum van Rompuy needed at 3:30 am CET, when he was scheduled to have a press conference:
- EU LEADERS AGREE THEY WILL REEXAMINE CEILING OF ESM BAILOUT FUND IN MARCH 2012 - EU DIPLOMAT via RTRS
- TREATY CHANGE LIKELY TO BE DONE AMONG EURO ZONE PLUS OTHER COUNTRIES, BUT NOT AT 27 - EU DIPLOMATS via RTRS
- EU LEADERS AGREED PERMANENT ESM BAILOUT FUND WILL NOT HAVE A BANKING LICENCE -- EU DIPLOMAT
- And the guilty party: An agreement at 27 fell through after British Prime Minister David Cameron demanded concessions that Germany and France were not willing to give, one of the officials said.
Translation: tomorrow's summit is as of now an epic failure. As for the Eurozone lasting through January 1 of 2012, let alone March... good luck.
Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium will not be cut, Libération added. It was not clear what other countries were likely to see their ratings downgraded, though it is thought that Austria will also be marked downward.
France's AAA credit rating will be downgraded by S&P, French finance minister confirms in TV broadcast.
19.29pm So, according to "people familiar with the matter" around the world, here's where we stand:
France and Austria are the only two eurozone nations set to lose their AAA credit ratings tonight. Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and The Netherlands are safe - apparently.
Ireland (rated BBB+) is also said to have escaped a downgrade, while Italy, Spain and Portugal are to be downgraded two notches (Portugal to "junk").
Slovakia has been earmarked for a downgrade, while Belgium, with its high debt-to-GDP ratio and banking sector troubles, is also a likely candidate (although it was downgraded by S&P in late November).
Anyone heard anything on Slovenia, Estonia and Malta?
France's top-tier credit rating will be downgraded by credit rating agency Standard & Poor's, the nation's finance minister said Friday.
Francois Baroin, speaking to France 2 Television, confirmed that France's "AAA" credit rating will be lowered one notch to "AA+." S&P has yet to officially announce the move.
European officials and investors were on alert Friday following reports that several eurozone countries were about to be downgraded by rating agency Standard & Poor's.
S&P declined to comment on the reports.
The move by S&P could mean that several national governments boasting top-tier credit ratings get knocked down below AAA.
France has been at the top of the list, along with Austria, among countries many expect to be bumped out of the AAA club.
It's not clear how hard national downgrades would hit markets. Investors have been expecting S&P to act for weeks now -- a fact that could blunt the impact. At the same time, downgrades could scare off investors in European debt and raise the cost of government borrowing.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Friday one should not give too much weight to the judgement of ratings agencies, ahead of an expected downgrade of France's AAA rating.
"In recent months, we have increasingly come to an understanding worldwide that we should not overestimate the ratings agencies in their assessments," Schaeuble told television station RTL.
"That there is great uncertainty in the euro countries is not new and of course affects us all," added the minister, speaking on the sidelines of a local election event in northern Germany.
For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to comment.
"Please understand that we are not going to comment now on things that have not yet happened," she told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party in the northern city of Kiel.
Ratings agencies Standard & Poor's has decided to downgrade France's top credit rating by one notch but will spare Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, EU government sources told AFP earlier on Friday.
S&P warned last month that the credit ratings of 15 of the eurozone's 17 member states were at risk of a downgrade due to the ongoing debt crisis.
France was at that time warned it could be hit with a two-notch downgrade.