EU gives France, Italy, Belgium until March to fix budgets
The European Commission on Friday gave France, Italy and Belgium until March to fix their budgets or risk humiliating penalties for breaking tough eurozone spending rules.
“We will decide in early March whether any further steps are necessary” said Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, referring to new EU powers over euro government budgets.
France in particular had made “limited progress”, the commission said, referring to the fact that Paris is set for a deficit of 4.3 percent of GDP in 2015, way above the EU.
Four other countries — Spain, Malta, Austria and Portugal — were also at lesser risk of meeting the rules imposed after the eurozone debt crisis.
The Commission, the EU’s executive branch, was delivering official opinions on euro government budget plans for 2015 under those new powers.
New European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview with several European newspapers earlier that he had decided to give France, Italy and Belgium more time to make reforms.
“I made a choice not to sanction because that would have been easy,” he said.