Europe's effort to expand its bailout fund to 1 trillion euros($1.3 trillion) is falling short, forcing renewed consideration ofa role for the European Central Bank in insulating Spain and Italyfrom the debt crisis, two officials familiar with the discussionssaid.

Finance ministers are holding an initial discussion today onchanneling ECB loans to cash-strapped euro nations through theInternational Monetary Fund, aiming to bring the central bank ontothe front lines without violating its ban on direct lending togovernments, said the people, who declined to be identified becausethe talks are at an early stage.

With renewed prodding from the U.S., European leaders arepondering a fifth “comprehensive” fix after an October blueprintfailed to stop a widening rout in Italian markets or quellspeculation that France will lose its top credit rating. Germany ispushing for governance changes at a summit next week that wouldtighten enforcement of budget rules, a move that might make iteasier for the ECB to step in.

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