Germany wants vetting of budgets: report

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Germany wants European Union members to show draft budgets to the European Central Bank or independent institutes, according to a document cited on Wednesday by the business daily Handelsblatt.

The newspaper also said that Chancellor Angela Merkel and her economic and finance ministers want to suspend payment of EU structural funds to countries that miss deficit reduction targets and possibly suspend the voting rights of countries that commit serious breaches of EU regulations.

"Stability programmes of eurozone countries could be subjected to more severe independent examination" by the European Central Bank or a group of independent research institutes, the newspaper said.

"In any event, the responsibility of national parliaments for their budget must nonetheless be respected," it added.

Last week, the European Commission proposed that EU members' draft budgets be submitted for preview and assessment from 2011 before their approval by respective parliaments.

The idea is being examined by eurozone finance ministers but has met criticism from several countries.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has meanwhile raised the idea of having eurozone countries adopt a deficit ceiling along the lines of that which will progressively take effect in Germany from 2016.

Slammed by a debt and deficit crisis, finance ministers from the 16-nation eurozone will meet in Brussels Friday to finalise details of a 750-billion-euro (one trillion dollar) rescue package agreed to by the EU and the Interational Monetary Fund.

It comes on top of a separate 110-billion-euro EU/IMF plan for Greece.

© 2010 AFP

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