EU plans deficit procedures against seven countries

The EU Commission is getting down to brass tacks: in view of excessive budget deficits and debt it intends to initiate deficit procedures against seven countries. In addition to France and Italy, the measures will affect Poland, Belgium, Hungary, Malta and Slovakia. According to EU rules gross debt may not exceed 60 percent of GDP, and annual new debt may not exceed three percent. Commentators eye the situation in their respective countries.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

This did not come out of the blue

The government in Rome can't pretend that it didn't see this coming, Corriere della Sera protests:

“The coming weeks will see discussions with Europe about how public spending should develop over the next seven years, the period for which the new fiscal rules apply. ... Since all this has been known since March, when the new rules were adopted, we would have expected the government to be ready with a proposal to send to Brussels on how much adjustment is envisaged in the next budget and how much flexibility Rome is demanding from the EU on interest expenditure and military spending. So far, none of this has happened.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Facilitate social policy

De Morgen looks to the future:

“Belgium's big problem is not the large budget deficit or the increasing national debt per se. The problem is that these issues must be viewed in the context that the ageing population will undoubtedly cost the state even more in years to come. The budget must now be reconsidered in order to pave the way for social policies with decent pensions and quality healthcare. This will inevitably be a painful exercise. But it must not be the signal to start swinging the axe at social measures.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Good news for Spain

El Periódico de Catalunya is optimistic:

“Spain closed 2023 with a deficit of 3.6 percent, yet the Commission has expressed its confidence in the government's plans to reach the three percent target by the end of 2024. ... Brussels' confidence in the potential of the Spanish economy and the government's commitment is good news. ... Driven by tourism and exports, the Spanish economy has shown remarkable resilience. Job creation has been one of its greatest achievements. ... So this is precisely the moment to carry out the necessary reforms to consolidate growth and introduce a culture of rigour and efficiency in all public administrations.”