Countries ‘ignore’ EU advice over spending

Germany and France have ignored recommendations from EU finance ministers and the European Commission to changes to their economies over the past two years, despite demanding the EU take ever greater control over countries’ spending, a study has shown.

The findings come as European commissioner Ollie Rehn announced an investigation into Germany’s economy and tomorrow, will ask governments to make changes to their national budgets for 2014 in line with the EU’s new strict surveillance of national economies.

The study, prepared by experts for the European Parliament, looked at the recommendations made to seven EU countries for last year and 2011, and lists them under three headings of ‘no action taken’, ‘serious work in progress’ and ‘fully implemented’.

Germany, France, Italy and Spain were chosen as the largest eurozone countries while one large and two smaller non-euro countries were included — Poland, Denmark and Lithuania.

Germany completed just three of the 32 actions they were asked to carry out, ignoring 52% and leaving the rest uncompleted. France complied with just one of its 29 tasks and didn’t address 48%.

Among the recommendations Germany failed to adopt were extending and implementing the banking and debt break to their 16 lander or states despite Germany having insisted each country make the debt break national law.

The recommendations they adopted were to move to reduce their debt and deficit while France’s success was in adjusting the law on firing workers.

Paris failed to correct its excessive deficit and remove restrictions on certain trades and professions.

Poland, the only EU country to have escaped the recession, was the third worst performer, having completed just five of 40 recommendations and ignoring half.

They were followed by Lithuania that completed less than a quarter of its 36 tasks and took no action on 25%. Italy carried out just under a quarter of its 47 recommendations and had failed to take action on eight — the smallest number of the seven countries.

Spain and Denmark each completed around 30% while Denmark’s failure to take any action on 11 of its 30 recommendations was more than Spain. Spain received the biggest number of recommendations at 54, but ignored just 13.

Ireland, because of the bailout programme, has had all its budget and structural changes closely monitored by the troika and until it gets its deficit down to under 3% in 2015, the country will continue to be under what is known as the excessive deficit procedure.


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