Chirac, Schroeder laud Luxembourg for budget deal

23rd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, March 22 (AFP) - Germany's Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac, seen as key winners from a deal to loosen EU fiscal rules, heaped praise Tuesday on the man who brokered the weekend accord.

BRUSSELS, March 22 (AFP) - Germany's Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac, seen as key winners from a deal to loosen EU fiscal rules, heaped praise Tuesday on the man who brokered the weekend accord.

"The Luxembourg (EU) president Jean-Claude Juncker has done first class work," Schroeder said, arriving for an EU summit expected to rubber stamp an EU finance ministers' deal to reform the long-strained Stability and Growth Pact.

Minutes later Chirac arrived and could be heard to say "Bravo" as he embraced Juncker, receiving the 25 EU leaders at the VIP entrance to the pink granite Justus Lipsius building where EU summits are held.

Juncker, who is the tiny country's finance minister as well as prime minister, said ahead of the summit that there was no question of making any further changes to the deal clinched in late-night talks Sunday.

The EU budget pact has been in tatters since November 2003 when France and Germany were let off the hook despite repeatedly breaching its deficit limit of three percent of GDP.

Sunday's accord to reform the pact allows countries to be exempt from disciplinary action for violating the rules in a large number of "relevant" circumstances, including costs related to Germany's reunification.

Luxembourg currently holds the EU's rotating presidency until the end of June.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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