FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- A top European Central Bank official says an agency with powers to restructure and wind down busted banks is "indispensable" to strengthening the continent's banking system against future turmoil.

Benoit Coeure said in the text of a speech Thursday in Copenhagen that such an agency could end "the bailout culture" and spare taxpayers by forcing losses on troubled banks' creditors and shareholders instead of using public funds to rescue them.

Coeure said such an agency will be needed as soon as the ECB takes over banking supervision, expected next year.

The remarks go beyond the stance taken by eurozone powerhouse Germany. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said such a central authority would require changes in the basic treaty governing the European Union. That could take years.

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