28th May 2020

Dijsselbloem: Fiscal rules must be applied objectively

  • "If the commission's decisions are very hard to understand and very hard to predict and are not objective, it is a very big worry," Dijsselbloem said. (Photo: The European Union)

The European Commission should be "very prudent" and "objective" when monitoring national budget deficits, the president of the Eurogroup has said.

"I am very worried," Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who also serves as Dutch finance minister, told a hearing in the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee on Tuesday (14 June).

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Dijsselbloem, who also currently chairs the EU finance ministers council, said finance ministers were "becoming a little concerned" by the commission's treatment of France and Spain, giving them more time to reduce their deficits.

He said it would be "a very big worry if the commission's decisions are very hard to understand and very hard to predict and are not objective … perhaps distinguishing between small and larger member states".

Last month, the commission decided to postpone until July a decision over whether to launch a procedure against Spain for excessive budget deficit. A legal paper from the Council of the EU, which represents member states, has questioned the legality of the decision.

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also recently said France was given until next year to reduce its deficit "because it is France".

He said fiscal rules should not be applied "blindly" because he knew France's "reflexes, its internal reactions, its multiple facets".

"I try to understand this kind of comments," Dijsselbloem told MEPs, adding that they raised raise "a lot of questions whether rules will be applied correctly".

"The commission has to understand that the pact is in their hands … that they are guardian of the pact," he said.

He said differences of treatment between countries would make it "more difficult to ask all of us to comply" to the rules.

He said it was a question of "confidence between us" as well as the confidence the "outside world" has towards the EU.

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