Lower the flags of EU deficit breakers: EU official suggests

9th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A European Commission official suggested Friday that the flags of EU countries which break the bloc's rules on debts and deficits could be flown at half mast outside institutional buildings.

In an interview with German mass-circulation daily Bild, the EU's Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger was asked what Europe could do to provide an effective deterrent to breaking deficit rules, amid a crippling debt crisis.

Oettinger proposed that EU countries submit their budgets to the EU in advance for checking, then added: "We could also consider unconventional ideas."

The commissioner, who is German, said: "There is also the suggestion that the flags of deficit sinners could be placed at half mast outside EU buildings. That would only be a symbol, but it would be a powerful deterrent."

Oettinger also proposed that the EU send "qualified officials" from other member states to help Greece with its administration.

However, he rejected the idea that debt-wracked Greece should be forced to leave the euro area.

"That would divide Europe and would be a disastrous signal. It would give the impression that the EU is not in a position to stabilise a relatively small country," he said.

"Markets and creditors would lose their trust in us in the future."

© 2011 AFP

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