The European Union's financial affairs chief says he's "less pessimistic" about the future of the euro than he was earlier this year.

Olli Rehn said the EU's powers for responding to the crisis hitting the 17-country group that uses the euro are much improved compared to two years ago. He also welcomed the official launch Monday of the European Union's new bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.

"We have enough challenges in Europe," Rehn said as he entered a meeting of finance ministers from the eurozone. "Nobody is having any party mood but I am less pessimistic for the moment of the future prospects of the eurozone than, for instance, in the spring."

The officials, meeting in Luxembourg, are expected Monday to assess developments rather than make major new decisions.