Friday, June 25, 2004

Decisions, decisions

The European Commission has issued deficit warnings to six new members and Greece. The latter has been told to come up with some ideas on how it will control its ever growing deficit by November 5 in order to come into line with the Growth and Stability Pact by 2005.

The six new member states that have had warnings are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia. They must bring their deficit down to the required three per cent by 2008.

The one problem with all these warnings is that they have to be accepted by the Finance Ministers, who are due to meet on July 5. So far these meetings have not produced any real results as far as defaulters under the Growth and Stability Pact are concerned, maybe because the biggest among these have been Germany and France.

The new member states are required to join the eurozone some time in the future and it has been pointed out to them that to do so they must keep within the required deficit rules. Just like those countries that are in the eurozone now, presumably.

In the meantime, the recently appointed (and about to retire) Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, has been musing on the fact that the European economic policy needed reforming (again) and one of the problems was that the deficit rules of the Growth and Stability Pact have been too stringently applied. Well, not so that you'd notice they haven't so far but matters might change now that there are small countries to bully.

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