Germany blasts European Commission for delaying sanctions against Spain and Portugal over public debts
European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker has been heavily criticised by Germany for failing to implement austerity rules against Spain and Portugal.
Mr Juncker, an opponent of austerity, has personally intervened to delay the introduction of sanctions against the two Iberian countries, which had been expected to happen on Tuesday 5 July, over the level of public debt.
Legally, the EU requires eurozone countries to keep public debt below 3 per cent of their GDP or 60 per cent of their total national wealth.
The penalty for non-compliance can be as high as 0.2 per cent of the GDP of the country in question.
Commission officials said they were unable to confirm whether the subject was “on or off the agenda”, according to the Times.
And Germany’s EU Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, told the German newspaper Bild: “If the commission wants to preserve its credibility on upholding budget rules, we have to approve sanctions against Spain and Portugal.
“Neither country met the budget commitments that they had both set themselves. If we draw up common rules, those rules have to be adhered to.”
Neither Spain or Portugal have notified the Commission about the measures they are taking to meet debt reduction targets.
Over the past few years, Germany, the Netherlands and other northern European EU members have expressed their bitterness over President Juncker’s unwillingness to keep a strong line on Greece, Portugal and Spain.
Germany had lobbied hard for the EU to have stronger budgetary and economic policies which have largely been left unused.