EU reaches deal on tighter budget discipline

EU reaches deal on tighter budget discipline

Strasbourg, France: The European Parliament and European Union (EU) states have reached a compromise to tighten budget rules, seen as vital to prevent future debt crises, the EU’s Polish presidency said on Thursday.

Poland, which holds the EU’s rotating chairmanship, said in a statement that a “package of compromise proposals" was agreed after “fruitful" discussions between the Parliament, the European Commission and EU governments.

The deal on the set of legislations, known as the “six-pack," will be presented to EU finance ministers meeting in Poland on Friday for their approval, the statement said.

“If the set of those proposals is approved by both the European Parliament and the (European) Council, the agreement on the economic governance package will be reached," it said.

European Parliament sources earlier confirmed the deal after months of fraught talks between lawmakers and governments.

“We have an agreement with the Polish presidency (of the EU) but we must verify that the other countries are in sync," one of the Parliament sources said.

Under the deal, countries running excessive deficits will have to deposit money in blocked accounts, with more automatic sanctions than in the past to punish budget sinners in Europe.

The overhaul of the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact, which has failed to stop countries from breaking deficit and debt ceilings, was proposed by the European Commission after the Greek debt crisis erupted last year.

Few countries in the 27-nation bloc respect the rules, which limit public deficits to 3.0% of gross domestic product (GDP) and debt levels to 60% of GDP.

The Parliament has asked for the axe to fall automatically on nations violating the rules, while governments insisted on having the last word on such decisions. The two sides appear to have found a middle ground.