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EU Commission says S&P's timing of downgrades "very odd"

(Xinhua)

09:31, January 17, 2012

BRUSSELS, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The timing of the decision by the U.S. ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) to downgrade nine eurozone countries was "very odd," a spokesman of the European Commission said Monday.

"We believe, as Vice President Rehn and the Commission have said, it is inconsistent on substance and it's really odd as far as the timing is concerned," Olivier Bailly told a news briefing.

Bailly said the ratings agency was wrong to think the eurozone was excessively focused on budget austerity.

"The idea expressed by the ratings agency that Europe is pursuing a strategy based on a pillar of fiscal austerity alone is a serious misperception," he said.

S&P, one of the three major international ratings agencies, announced its decision on Friday to lower the sovereign ratings of France and Austria from the top AAA grade by one notch to AA+. Seven other European countries including Spain and Italy were also downgraded.

European Union Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Olli Rehn on Friday called S&P's decisions "inconsistent" and said the ratings agency ignored the "decisive actions" taken by the eurozone to implement budgetary, structural and banking sector reforms.

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