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Financial News: Member States Made Significant Progress In Fiscal Policy,

Member States Made Significant Progress In Fiscal Policy, EU Says

05/22/2017 - 10:09:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - European Union countries have made significant progress in fiscal policy and governance and active labor market policies, suggesting that important reforms are being implemented across the region, the European Commission said Monday.

Aggregate deficit level in the euro area is set to fall to 1.4 percent of GDP this year, down from a peak of 6.1 percent of GDP in 2010, the commission predicted.

The executive-arm of the EU assessed that Portugal, which had to be bailed-out, following the global financial crisis was no longer breaching the budget rules.

The commission recommended that the Excessive Deficit Procedures be closed for Portugal, along with Croatia. These countries brought their deficits below the Maastricht Treaty threshold of 3 percent of GDP Treaty, the report noted.

The disciplinary measures for these two countries will end only when the EU economy and finance ministers approve the commission's recommendation.

Thus, only four member states - France, Spain, Greece and the United Kingdom - remain under the corrective arm of the Pact, down from 24 countries in 2011, the EU said.

In 2015, the commission had asked France to correct its excessive deficit by this year to 2.8 percent of GDP. The commission has forecast 3 percent deficit for France this year and 3.2 percent next year.

"France is expected to further adjust towards its medium-term budgetary objective of a structural deficit of 0.4 of GDP," the commission said.

"Overall, the Council is of the opinion that France needs to stand ready to take further measures to ensure compliance in 2017 and that further measures will be needed as of 2018 to comply with the provisions of the Stability and Growth Pact," the report said.

Regarding Italy, which has the second largest debt in the euro area, the commission said Italy is experiencing excessive macroeconomic imbalances.

"High government debt and protracted weak productivity dynamics imply risks with cross-border relevance, in a context of high non-performing loans and unemployment," the report said.

"The need for action to reduce the risk of adverse effects on the Italian economy and, given its size and cross-border relevance, on the economic and monetary union, is particularly important."

EU recovery will continue next year, but is uneven and still vulnerable, EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said.

"The European Commission recommends to Member States an appropriate balance between ensuring the sustainability of public finances and achieving a fiscal stance that will help strengthen - and not undermine - the recovery," the top EU official said.

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