Share story

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union finance ministers have agreed to collectively address the problem of non-performing loans in the banking sector, which has been an economic problem particularly in Italy and Spain.

At the conclusion of a regular gathering in Brussels, the finance ministers outlined a series of measures to reduce the total stock of bad loans, which amounted to nearly 1 trillion euros ($1.14 trillion) at the end of 2016, equivalent to 6.7 percent of the bloc’s annual GDP, or 5.1 percent of total loans.

Toomas Toniste, Estonia’s finance minister who was chairing the meeting as his country has taken over the rotating 6-month presidency of the EU, said dealing with bad loans was important to make the financial system more resilient.

He said Tuesday that a “more collective approach” was needed.