Spain’s Budget-Breach Decision Won’t Be Postponed Again, EU Says

  • Valdis Dombrovskis says ruling expected to go ahead in July
  • Decisions seen favoring larger nations, Dijsselbloem says

The European Commission plans to rule on Spain and Portugal’s budget violations shortly after the Spanish general election and is unlikely to delay its verdict again, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said.

“There are no plans to postpone those decisions further,” Dombrovskis told the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday. “It’s the commission’s duty” to apply the European’s deficit and debt rules, he said.

The Brussels-based commission, the European Union’s executive body, decided last month to re-evaluate the budgets of Spain and Portugal in early July -- just after the Spanish vote on June 26 -- after its own economists recommended punitive measures. At the same time, the commission granted the two countries an extra year to bring their deficits within the EU’s limit.

Some governments have criticized the commission for what they perceive as favoritism toward larger EU countries when it comes to ruling on breaches of spending rules. France, the second-largest economy in the euro area, has repeatedly been given extra time to meet its deficit targets.

The commission’s postponement of the Spain and Portugal budget decisions “raises a lot of questions about whether the rules are being applied correctly,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs meetings of his euro-area counterparts, told the EU parliament earlier Tuesday.

It’s “a very big worry” if governments believe the commission’s decisions are “very hard to predict and are not objective, are perhaps distinguishing between small member states and large member states,” he said.

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