EU urges Dutch to meet own deficit commitments

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EU budget watchdogs urged the Netherlands on Thursday to apply the same hardline rigour to its own deteriorating public finances that it demanded in drawn-out negotiations over a second bailout for Greece.

The Dutch government announced on Thursday that its "provisional" public deficit for 2012 would rise from the previously expected 4.1 percent of output to 4.5 percent of GDP.

The country's central planning bureau said the deficit would fall to 4.1 percent in 2014 and 3.3 percent in 2015 unless there was a change in government strategy.

"We think that the Netherlands is one country that has been very vocal when supporting the reinforcmeent of our fiscal surveillance rules," said European Commission economy spokesman Amadeu Altafaj.

"So it's absolutely normal to believe that the Netherlands will apply this same approach to its own fiscal policies."

Altafaj underlined that the Dutch have an agreed target of 2013 to get back within the nominal European Union ceiling for deficits, otherwise they could be docked monies under a new system of eurozone sanctions the Dutch fought hard to toughen up.

"We trust that the Netherlands will do the necessary to comply," Altafaj added.

Greek President Carolos Papoulias hit out last month at the Netherlands, after dozens of new conditions were added to bailout talks.

"Who is Mr Schaeuble to insult Greece," he said of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. "Who are the Dutch? Who are the Finnish?"

© 2012 AFP

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