Euro zone countries will consider on Monday how to pay for the repair of their broken banks after health checks next year that are expected to uncover problems that have festered since the financial crisis.
Nobody knows the true scale of potential losses at Europe's banks, but the International Monetary Fund hinted at the enormity of the problem this month, saying that Spanish and Italian banks face 230 billion euros ($310 billion) of losses alone on credit to companies in the next two years.
Yet five years after the United States demanded its big banks take on new capital to reassure investors, Europe is still struggling to impose order on its financial system, having given emergency aid to five countries.
(Read more: Could default risk put US in euro-zone doghouse?)
Finance ministers from the 17-nation currency area meeting in Luxembourg will tackle the issue of plugging holes expected to be revealed by the European Central Bank's health checks next year. The president of the European Central Bank underscored the need for action in Washington at the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.