The European Commission is considering the establishment of a European emergency fund paid for by the financial sector to rescue failing banks and fend off future crises, EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said on Friday (19 March).

Barnier's proposal comes in the midst of discussions on how to deal with possible future banking collapses like that of the Lehman Brothers in the United States.

''Citizens should not have to foot the bill for this,'' Barnier told a Brussels conference on financial crisis management. He said he believes in the 'polluter pays' principle and backs the idea of an EU contingency fund for collapsing banks that is directly paid for by private financial institutions.

Barnier's spokesperson later confirmed that he is in favour of the financial involvement of the banking sector to help prevent future crises. However, this is Barnier's personal view, the spokesperon added, as the subject is yet to be discussed by the college of commissioners.

The Commission is expected to present a communication on the issue in the autumn. Meanwhile, an informal meeting of EU economy and finance ministers (Ecofin) in April will address the matter, officials said.