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Spain exits EU disciplinary procedure after whittling down deficit



The development means that none of the bloc’s 28 member states is now subject to a so-called excessive deficit procedure.

“EU finance ministers today closed the excessive deficit procedure for Spain, confirming that it has reduced its deficit below the EU’s 3 per cent of gross domestic product reference value.

“Spain’s deficit reached 2.5 per cent of GDP in 2018, down from 3.1 per cent the previous year,’’ the ministers noted.

It is expected to stay well below 3 per cent through 2020.

In 2009, the EU gave Spain three years to comply with the bloc’s deficit ceiling, a deadline that was extended four times. In 2016, Spain came close to being fined.

Eurozone countries that are in persistent breach of the EU’s fiscal rules, which also include a 60 per cent ceiling for public debt, can ultimately be fined up to 0.5 per cent of GDP, although this step has never been taken.

As a result of the economic crisis that hit Europe in 2009, most EU member states have been under an excessive deficit procedure at one point or another.

Most recently, the European Commission recommended last week that Italy’s persistently high debt warrants an opening of the procedure against Rome, an assessment shared by member states.