France, Germany want to block vote rights for deficit states

21st July 2010, Comments 0 comments

France and Germany said on Wednesday they want to suspend voting rights of EU member states which run up excessive deficits and to impose financial sanctions on them.

"Political sanctions such as the suspension of voting rights should be imposed on member states which infringe common engagements in a serious or repeated manner," the two countries said in joint proposals.

"This mechanism should be included in any revision of the (European Union) treaty that is susceptible to be accepted in the future," said the text published after Germany's finance minister attended a French cabinet meeting.

But before any such treaty revision, "a political alternative, not legally binding, could take the form of a political accord permitting member states of the eurozone" to exclude the offending states from certain votes.

The proposals were due to be sent in a letter, signed by both France's Finance Minister Chrstine Lagarde and her German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble, to EU president Herman Van Rompuy.

Lagarde told reporters that she had also discussed with Schaueble the possibility of imposing "sanctions of a financial character, notably in the form of a deposit that an offending state would have to make."

European governments agreed last week to create tough new sanctions against countries that run excessive public deficits, including a halt of certain subsidies.

Public deficits exploded during the 2008-2009 global recession as European governments launched stimulus programmes to prop up their struggling economies.

Several governments in Europe have now begun to implement deep spending cuts and tax rises to reduce their deficits in the wake of a debt crisis that has rocked the continent.

The European Union's Stability and Growth Pact requires member states to maintain fiscal discipline, notably by holding annual public deficits under 3.0 percent of output.

© 2010 AFP

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