(Fixes 2nd graf)


Spain's economy minister expressed confidence here Wednesday that the European Union would agree to rules on future bank bailouts, though he also stressed that Spain had already achieved its goal of ensuring deposits will be protected.

"Spain is in a comfortable position. There's already been a very clear message about protecting deposits," Luis De Guindos said upon arrival for a special EU ministerial meeting aimed at finalizing a political accord on future bank restructurings and liquidations.

The goal is to establish a hierarchy of which bank creditors must take losses in the event of a public bailout, with shareholders of the ailing financial institution to take the first hit, followed by holders of subordinated debt and junior bonds, holders of senior bonds and finally uninsured depositors.

A general agreement exists to grant special protection to deposits of more than 100,000 euros in the hands of individuals and small businesses, while a consensus is already in place to protect deposits of less than 100,000 euros as sacrosanct.

The Spanish minister described as "correct" the minimum percentage of privately held assets that banks would have to have on their books - in the form of capital, bonds or deposits - before a government would have the flexibility to exempt some creditors from write-downs.

The ministerial meeting was held a day prior to a summit of European leaders and De Guindos said it was important to reach agreement Wednesday "because it's a step toward a banking union."