EU presses Spain to detail deficit reduction plans

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Europe on Tuesday pressed Spain to clarify precisely how it intends to slash 15 billion euros from its budget in order to get its public deficit below the required three percent of GDP by 2013.

"There is an invitation to specify as soon as possible measures to subsantiate the targets for the years beyond 2010," the European Commission, the EU's budgetary watchdog, said in a statement.

The Commission was addressing excessive deficits in 12 member countries which are supposed to keep their public deficit to less than three percent of Gross Domestic Product under EU rules.

The commission judged that Spain's newly revised targets are "appropriately ambitious and imply substantial fiscal consolidation."

The Spanish government is expected to announce its 2011 budget around mid-September when precise measures are to be laid out.

The Spanish parliament last month approved a 15-billion-euro (18.5-billion-dollar) austerity plan by just a single vote, on top of 50 billion euros of radical cuts announced in January.

Spain is under close scrutiny on the capital markets because its public deficit soared to 11.2 percent of GDP in 2009, the third-highest level in the eurozone after Greece and Ireland, with investors demanding ever higher interest payments in return for providing fresh cash.

Portugal and 10 other EU member states, including Cyprus, Denmark and Finland, also came under Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn's review.

© 2010 AFP

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