March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said the European Union needs to shift toward a longer-term plan to boost growth and cut public spending.
“We’ve been in kind of a short-sighted crisis,” Reinfeldt said in an interview late yesterday after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. “There are still huge deficits and excessive debt levels when it comes to a lot of member countries. How do you have growth without spending taxpayers’ money?”
With the region’s economy facing stagnation this year and the 17-member euro area expected to contract, European leaders are seeking measures to boost employment. At the same time, countries are under pressure to cut public spending, trim pension costs and improve their tax systems to plug budget gaps.
Reinfeldt said free-trade agreements and better patent procedures may lay the groundwork for a faster-growing economy in the absence of publicly funded stimulus programs. He said Sweden and 11 other nations are pushing to incorporate more of their recommendations into the final conclusions of this week’s summit.
Yesterday, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron expressed frustration with movement to expand the EU’s single market. Cameron, who also signed the letter from the dozen countries, said at the summit that he wanted measurable timetables and targets for further market integration.
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