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EU’s Altafaj Says Verdict on Spain Budget Needs ‘Hard Figures’

European Union spokesman Amadeu Altafaj comments about Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s announcement on March 2 that Spain’s budget deficit this year would be 5.8 percent of gross domestic product instead of the 4.4 percent target agreed previously with the EU.

Altafaj spoke to reporters today in Brussels at the European Commission, the EU’s regulatory arm. The commission will review the Spanish government’s latest fiscal plans, which follow a missed deficit goal in 2011. The commission has the right to seek penalties against Spain for failing to narrow the spending gap enough.

“We first need the full picture of Spanish serious fiscal slippage last year. We need the full picture about the reasons for that serious deviation. And we need the full picture as far as the preparations of the budget for 2012 is concerned, which should happen during the month of March.”

“Then the deficit figures have to be validated and published by Eurostat and that will happen in April. And then we will assess the situation based on hard figures, hard facts and not speculation.”

“Let’s shed all the light on what happened in Spain in 2011 because it’s a serious deviation.”

“We need to know the origin of this deviation, the nature of this deviation. Is it structural? Is it temporary? What are the measures to be contemplated in the framework of the 2012 budget to remedy this situation?”

“Closer coordination of economic policy is at the heart of the reinforcement of the economic governance” of the 17-nation euro area.

Altafaj also read out parts of the EU summit conclusions on March 2 that say “all member states should continue to respect their commitments according to the rules” and those nations under market pressure should meet “agreed budgetary targets and stand ready to pursue further consolidation measures if needed.”

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