France, Italy call for full-time Eurogroup chief

ROME (Reuters) - France and Italy called on Wednesday for euro zone finance ministers to have a full-time chairman after European Parliament elections in May, according to a joint Franco-Italian document.

The document was released to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting between French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta. It follows a similar agreement between France and Germany in May on creating a full-time president of the 17-nation currency area's ministers.

According to the document, the two also urged a EU summit in December to agree on a resolution mechanism for failing banks and the possibility of direct recapitalization of banks by the so-called European Stability Mechanism, the permanent crisis resolution mechanism for the countries of the euro area.

Germany, loath to share liability for rescuing other countries' banks, has been resisting this move, which it says would require a change in its national legislation.

"France and Italy are two major economies modernizing themselves and assuming their responsibilities to give Europe new political ambition and re-orient it from austerity to growth," the joint document said.

Earlier, protesters threw smoke bombs and clashed with police in central Rome while Letta met Hollande in the capital.

The scuffles broke out around the Campo de' Fiori central square where people had gathered to protest against a high-speed rail link being built between France and northern Italy.

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus; writing by Leigh Thomas; editing by Mark John and Paul Taylor)