News & Comments

We welcome short entries about relevant European or national developments for this News and Comments section. You are invited to use the contact form for this or to directly contact Thomas Beukers ( or Viorica Vita (

12 July: Council decides Spain and Portugal failed to take effective action

July 12, 2016

In an unprecedented decision of 12 July, the ECOFIN Council has decided, in line with the Commission recommendation of 7 July, that both Spain and Portugal have failed to take effective action under the excessive deficit procedure. This is the first time the Council has taken such a decision under article 126(8) TFEU, setting in motion […]

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8 December 2015: ECOFIN discussion on flexibility within the SGP

December 8, 2015

The 8 December ECOFIN has discussed the issue of flexibility within the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). The discussion follows the Communication of the European Commission of 13 January 2015 to other relevant institutions on how to make the best use of the flexibility within the existing rules on the SGP. The Communication gives clarifications […]

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18 July: Spain and Portugal try to avoid SGP fines

July 18, 2016

Both countries have submitted to the Commission their arguments for only imposing symbolic sanctions, after the Council had decided on12 July thar Spain and Portugal had failed to take effective action on the Council recommendations of June 2013. According to the SGP rules, both countries had a week to convince the Commission not to impose a […]

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17 November 2015: Commission will allow budget flexibility for France after Paris attacks

November 17, 2015

After French Prime Minister Valls announced that increased security spending will prevent France from respecting its EU budget deficit target, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Moscovici commented that "The security of citizens is the absolute priority, and the commission will show full understanding." See for further reporting Reuters, EUObserver and The Guardian.

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20 July: EP wants say over possible suspension of funds

July 20, 2016

EP President Schulz told the European Commission on 20 July that his institution wants to have a say in a decision to suspend structural funds for Spain and Portugal, following the Council's decision of 12 July that both countries have failed to take effective action under the excessive deficit procedure. See the news coverage by Euractiv:

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Brussels, French Politics and the “Macron Law” – by Robin Gadbled

March 31, 2015

By Robin Gadbled (EUI) Intense debate and media attention surrounded the adoption of the French law on Growth, Economic Activity and Economic Equal Opportunities[1], more famously known under the name of its promotor: France’s new Minister to the Economy Emmanuel Macron. Read the whole comment here.

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27 July: no fines for Spain and Portugal

July 28, 2016

The European Commission, making use of discretionary powers it has under the Six Pack of economic governance legislation, recommends not to impose fines (technically: to impose fines of zero euro) on Spain and Portugal because of the fiscal efforts both countries have made (although not meeting the targets) and the social challenges they are facing. The […]

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16 January 2015: European Commission issues guidance on how it will apply the SGP to foster reform and investment

January 16, 2015

On 13 January 2015 the European Commission has presented guidance on how it plans to apply the existing Stability and Growth Pact rules to strengthen the link between structural reforms, investment and fiscal responsibility in support of jobs and growth. See the press release at:

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3 October: structured dialogue between Commission and EP on suspending funds for Spain and Portugal

October 3, 2016

Following the Council decision of 12 July 2016 that both Spain and Portugal had under the excessive deficit procedure failed to take effective action in response to Council recommendations under article 126(8) TFEU, on 3 October a structured dialogue took place between the Commission and EP on one of the consequences of this decision, namely suspension […]

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5 February: Commission presents opinion on Portuguese draft budgetary plans

February 5, 2016

On 5 February the European Commission has presented its opinion on the Portuguese draft budgetary plans for 2016, calling for extra measures, but not requiring Portugal to submit a new draft. Portugal, due to general elections in October 2015, had failed to comply with the obligation to submit its plans by 15 October (Regulation 473/2013), […]

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8 August: no fines for Spain and Portugal and extension of excessive deficit deadline

August 8, 2016

Following up on its decision of 12 July under article 126(8) TFEU establishing that Spain and Portugal had violated the Stability and Growth Pact, the Council on 8 August has taken a decision imposing a fine on both countries which was however reduced to zero. With regard to the imposition of a fine on Spain, […]

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11 February: Italian PM says problem euro area is not lack of Finance Minister but austerity

February 11, 2016

In an op-ed in Italian newspaper La Repubblica Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi argues that the problem of the euro area is not the lack of a treasury superminister for the euro area, nor the rules of the SGP themselves. The problem lies in the economic politics of Europe which is based too much on […]

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17 October: euro area member states present draft budgetary plans

October 17, 2016

All euro area member states – except for Greece – have presented their draft budgetary plans for 2017 in accordance with article 6(1) of Regulation (EU) No. 473/2013. The Commission now has to adopt an opinion on the draft budgetary plans as soon as possible and in any event by 30 November (article 7(1) of […]

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11 February: Eurogroup supports Commission view on Portuguese budget

February 11, 2016

In a statement following its 11 February meeting, the Eurogroup supports the Commission's view on the Portuguese draft budgetary plans for 2016. The full statement by the Eurogroup reads: "Today, the Eurogroup discussed the Draft Budgetary Plan (DBP) of Portugal, submitted on 22 January, on the basis of the Commission's Opinion, which was published on […]

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5 December: Eurogroup disagrees with Commission on fiscal stance

December 5, 2016

In its recommendation of 16 November for a Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area, the European Commission had called for a positive fiscal stance, inviting member states with budgetary space to invest (especially Germany and the Netherlands). The Eurogoup disagrees, arguing that a broadly neutral aggregate fiscal stance in 2017 is appropriate. […]

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11 February: Brussels says no to further budgetary flexibility for Spain

February 12, 2016

While Spain is still struggling to form a new government after the general elections of 20 December 2015, the Spanish government has confirmed that it has not met the budgetary requirements for 2015. A request by Rajoy for further flexibility was denied in statements after the 11 February Eurogroup meeting by Commissioner Moscovici and President […]

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17 January: Commission adopts updated opinion on Spanish and Lithuanian budgets

January 17, 2017

The Commission conclused that Spain, which is currently in the corrective arm, is broadly compliant with the Stability and Growth Pact in 2017; Lithuania, which is in the preventive arm, instead is deemed at risk of non-compliance pending the assessment of requested flexibility. Read the press release here.

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24 February: Portugal adopts 2016 budget

February 24, 2016

After delay caused by the October 2015 general elections, and after a – delayed – interaction with the European Commission over its draft budgetary plans, including this Commission opinion, on 24 February Portugal has adopted its 2016 budget. See Euractiv for further news coverage.

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13 february: European Commission publishes winter forecast 2017

February 13, 2017

In its 2017 winter forecast, which is at the basis of its economic policy decisions in the European economic governance framework, the European Commission concludes that the European economic recovery is expected to continue this year and next: for the first time in almost a decade, the economies of all EU Member States are expected […]

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19 April: European Court of Auditors critical of excessive deficit procedure implementation

April 19, 2016

In a report published on 19 April 2016, the European Court of Auditors is critical of the way the European Commission implements the excessive deficit procedure, and argues that the application lacks consistency and transparency and that the Commission does not adequately record its underlying assumptions or share its surveillance findings for the greater benefit […]

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22 May: Commission presents European Semester Country Specific Recommendations

May 22, 2017

The European Commission on 22 May presented its recommendations for Country Specific Council Recommendations as part of the European Semester.

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18 May: Commission proposes to give Spain and Portugal more time to correct deficit

May 18, 2016

In its 2016 European Semester Country Specific Recommendations on 18 May 2016, the European Commission has proposed to give both Spain and Portugal an extra year to correct its excessive deficit under the excessive deficit procedure: "As regards Portugal and Spain, the Commission recommends to the Council to recommend a durable correction of the excessive […]

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3 May: Spain to hold new general elections amidst rumours of first ever SGP sanctions

May 4, 2016

After several failed attempts to form a government after the Spanish Parliamentary elections of 20 December 2015 – in which no party secured a majority – new elections will be held on Sunday 26 June 2016 following a decision by the Spanish King to dissolve Parliament. This decision comes amidst rumours that Spain might become […]

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23 May: German Centre for Economic Studies publishes critical analysis of excessive deficit procedure

May 23, 2016

Only a few days after the European Commission has proposed to give both Spain and Portugal more time to correct their excessive deficit, the German institute of economic studies CESifo has published a critical study of the excessive deficit procedure, including an overview of past violations, concluding that 114 out of a total of 165 […]

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14 June: Eurogroup President concerned about flexible application SGP

June 14, 2016

During a meeting of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committe of the European Parliament review the Dutch Presidency of the ECOFIN Council, he remarked: "If we have an agreement between us, it is important that all of us comply. The role of the Commission is crucial when it comes to interpretation of flexibility rules and […]

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7 July: Commission recommends Council decision establishing no effective action by Spain and Portugal

July 7, 2016

The European Commission has adopted two recommendations to the Council establishing that both Spain and Portugal have failed to take effective action in light of their respective Council recommendations of 21 June 2013. Should the Council take over the recommendation of July 7, the Commission will have to propose what consequences it should have in […]

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