EU assembly boss against fining France

21st November 2003, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, Nov 21 (AFP) - European Parliament head Pat Cox warned Friday against sanctions being imposed on EU heavyweights Germany and France over ballooning deficits, saying it would be like "kicking a dog when it's down."

BRUSSELS, Nov 21 (AFP) - European Parliament head Pat Cox warned Friday against sanctions being imposed on EU heavyweights Germany and France over ballooning deficits, saying it would be like "kicking a dog when it's down."

The Irish EU assembly leader said he understood those who argued that budget rules which limit public deficits to three percent of output have to be applied strictly to all, including the bloc's biggest states.

"But as a president who comes from small country I ask the question, would action that hinders growth in two of our biggest economies help the EU's small nations and the Community as a whole?" he said.

"I believe the overriding political imperative is to stimulate growth and prosperity across the Union," he added.

EU finance ministers, meeting in Brussels next Monday and Tuesday, are set discuss formal calls by the European Commission to Paris and Berlin, recommending they make more efforts to cut deficits or face sanctions.

The rules are fixed under the 1997 Stability and Growth Pact, which has come under growing strain in recent months as deficits have swelled amid a prolonged slowdown in the continent's economies.

Cox said that imposing stringent conditions on such a huge proportion of the European economy, with cuts in spending and higher taxes is unlikely to increase growth. "It's like kicking a dog when it's down."

"It is a tough call, but my own view as an economist is that sanctions might be counter-productive at this critical time," he added.

Exceptionally Romano Prodi, the head of the EU executive commission who sparked uproar last year by calling over-rigid application of the budget pact "stupid," is to attend the meetings.

© AFP

Subject: French news





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