Spain's next PM backs treaty revision

6th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's incoming prime minister Mariano Rajoy said Tuesday he was in favour of treaty reform in Europe advocated by Germany and France to strengthen the euro.

Speaking ahead of a make-or-break EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, Rajoy said he was convinced that any treaty change agreed would enter into force as soon as possible.

"We are in favour of the treaty reform which will certainly be presented at the next meeting on December 9, and we also believe we will find a way for that reform to enter into force as soon possible," he said.

Rajoy, who is due to take office on December 22, said Spain's position would be presented at the summit by the current socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Rajoy's conservative Popular Party (PP) crushed the ruling Socialists in an election last month promising widespread austerity measures to plug the public deficit.

Germany and France agreed Monday that they want treaty changes to enforce budget discipline, including automatic sanctions against any member state that allows its public deficit go above 3.0 percent of gross domestic product.

They also called for a "reinforced and harmonised golden rule" on deficits, which could oblige some states to make a commitment to balance their public finances and write it into their constitution or legislation.

The new rules would be enshrined in a rewritten EU treaty signed by all 27 EU members or, as an alternative, by just the 17 eurozone members, with the other nations signing on a voluntary basis.

Rajoy said Spain had already adopted the "golden rule" and reiterated a promise by his predecessor to "honour the commitment" of deficit reduction.

Spain, which added a fiscal stability pledge to its constitution in September, is seeking to slash its total public deficit to 6.0 percent of gross domestic product by the end of 2011 from 9.2 percent last year.

It aims to reach the EU limit of 3.0 percent by 2013.

"Spain can tell Europe and the world that it has already introduced the reforms to ensure fiscal stability," Rajoy said.

He added that the first bill his new government plans to submit to parliament, in June 2012, will limit the deficit to 0.4 percent from 2020.

The future prime minister also reiterated that he wants to bring down the "terrible figures" on unemployment -- Spain has the highest jobless rate among industrialised countries, at 21.52 percent.

© 2011 AFP

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