BRUSSELS, March 24 (Reuters) - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made a new call on Wednesday for countries using the euro to create a safety net to help Greece if it needs financial assistance.

Barroso told the European Parliament that although the Greek debt situation was not on the formal agenda of a meeting of European Union leaders on Thursday and Friday, he could not imagine the issue would not be discussed.

It is now appropriate to create, within the euro area, an instrument for coordinated action which could be used to provide assistance to Greece in case of need, Barroso said.

The framework for coordinated action should be understood as a safety-net to be used only in the case that all other means to avoid a crisis have been exhausted, including first and foremost exhausting the scope for policy action at the domestic level.

He was referring to a debate across the euro zone on whether the 16-country group or the International Monetary Fund should offer Greece loans to help ease pressure on Greek bond yields at auctions.

He said such a framework should strengthen the unity and governance of the countries using the euro.

Greece wants the euro zone to declare its readiness to lend to it because it believes this would reduce its borrowing costs on the market without it actually having to use the money.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a regional election in May and the German public is hostile to helping Greece financially after it lived beyond its means for years and cheated on its statistics.

Berlin has signalled Greece may have to turn to the IMF.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, editing by Timothy Heritage)