A European Union (EU) banking union should be established over the next two years in order to stabilize the region's financial system.
That is the opinion of Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, who believes such strong measures are required if deeper assimilation is to be achieved across the bloc.
During an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Barroso explained that setting up a banking union would represent "a very big step" towards a more secure EU that would not be as susceptible to debt crises in the future.
"There is now a much clearer awareness among European member states about the need to go further in terms of integration, especially in the euro area," he noted.
The official went on to state that the plan - which would include the creation of a new joint rescue fund and a deposit guarantee scheme - could be implemented as soon as next year.
"Either Europe makes a step forward or there is a risk of fragmentation," he warned.
By Tony Aynsley