EU would-be economy commissioner urges member states to improve public finances

08:46, January 12, 2010      

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The would-be Economy Commissioner of the European Union (EU) Olli Rehn Monday urged member states of the bloc to put their public finances in order, especially Greece.

Greece's public deficit is said to reach 12.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009, far above the EU's accepted ceiling of 3 percent.

At a hearing held here at the European Parliament, Rehn, the designated commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said that the Greek government should put forward in the next few weeks "a comprehensive package of policy measures to correct the situation."

Rehn said that the problem with public finances was not limited to Greece, claiming that "in most of our member states we have an unsustainable trend of public deficit and debt."

Rehn, who was the EU's enlargement commissioner from 2004 to 2009, stressed that the current level of public debt has become "untenable, particularly in the light of the aging of the population."

Between 2008 and 2009, due to the impact of worldwide economic crisis, average EU public deficit has risen from less than 3 percent to close to 7 percent" of GDP, while debt increased from 65 percent to 85 percent of GDP, according to the designated commissioner.

Given the fact that economic recovery within the EU is still fledging, Rehn, however, admitted that consolidation of public finances can only happen once the recovery was "on a sound footing."

The EU's first full-time president Herman Van Rompuy announced earlier this month that a special summit of EU leaders would be convened on Feb. 11 to discuss economic issues. It is widely expected that the current economic crisis will be a main topic of the summit.

Source: Xinhua
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