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European Council and Parliament Reach Tentative Agreement on EU Fiscal Rules Reform

After 16 hours of intense negotiations, the European Parliament and member states have reached a crucial agreement on reforms to EU budgetary rules.

by EUToday Correspondents
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European Council

Negotiators representing the European Council and the European Parliament have achieved a provisional political agreement on a substantial revamp of the EU’s economic governance framework. The development highlights a concerted endeavour to reinforce fiscal stability across member states while instigating growth through targeted reforms and investments.

Belgian Finance Minister, Vincent Van Peteghem, lauded the accord as a pivotal improvement to the existing framework, promising a more robust set of rules applicable to all EU nations.

The new rules will significantly improve the existing framework and ensure effective and applicable rules for all EU countries. They will safeguard balanced and sustainable public finances, strengthen the focus on structural reforms, and foster investments, growth and job creation throughout the EU. I’m glad that we have found a balanced agreement that will now allow for a swift implementation.

Vincent Van Peteghem, Belgian Minister of Finance

The agreement, finalised in the early hours of Saturday, seeks to modernise the regulations under the Stability and Growth Pact, established in the late 1990s. This milestone signifies a significant stride in the EU’s endeavour to strike a nuanced balance between fiscal discipline and the imperative to spur investment for economic growth.

The text of the agreement, championed by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU on social media, reflects a collaborative effort to address the concerns of diverse member states.

Over the past two years, amidst mounting pressures from frugal states like Germany and advocates for greater flexibility such as France and Italy, the EU has engaged in intricate negotiations to overhaul its budgetary framework.

While critics have decried the complexity of the new rules, branding them as instruments of austerity, proponents argue that the reforms are indispensable for achieving balanced and sustainable public finances, fostering investments, and generating jobs across the EU.

A central aspect of the agreement is the introduction of more flexible fiscal rules tailored to the specific circumstances of individual member states.

While upholding limits on debt and budget deficits, the accord allows for greater adaptability in addressing excessive deficits, particularly crucial amidst the economic disruptions induced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions.

The revised framework advocates a nuanced approach, enabling each country to delineate its trajectory towards fiscal stability while implementing necessary reforms and investments.

By prioritising expenditure trends over rigid deficit targets, the EU aims to facilitate a smoother transition back to fiscal health.

However, negotiations were not devoid of contention, with member states grappling over the extent to which previous limits should be relaxed.

The agreement strikes a delicate balance between accommodating pressing priorities such as the green transition and security concerns in the aftermath of conflicts in Europe, while upholding fiscal responsibility.

Key provisions of the agreement include a quantifiable minimum effort for all EU countries to reduce debt and deficits, endorsed by Germany and its allies.

Despite receiving support from various political groupings, dissent persists among the Greens and some S&D members, who perceive the agreement as a regression to austerity measures.

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