SPAIN has formally requested a European lifeline of up to 100 billion euros (AU$126 billion) to save its stricken banks and try to avert a broader financial catastrophe.
Fellow finance ministers in the 17-nation eurozone accepted the plea in a statement released after an emergency video conference lasting more than two hours.
"The Spanish government declares its intention to solicit European financial help for the recapitalisation of those banks that need it," economy minister Luis de Guindos told a news conference.
Mr de Guindos refused to describe the aid as a rescue, which his government had categorically ruled out even in the days leading up the formal request for cash.
"This has nothing to do with a rescue," he insisted, arguing that the aid would be directed to the 30 per cent of banks with the greatest exposure to the 2008 property market crash.
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