One of the strongest critics of France and Germany's deficit weakness may soon be getting a taste of its own medicine. A report released Friday shows that the Netherlands will break the budget rules in 2004.
There may be a few red faces in the Dutch Finance Ministry soon if a survey published on Friday by the Dutch think tank, the Central Planning Bureau (CPB), turns out to be correct. In the past the Netherlands has repeatedly criticized France and Germany for breaking discipline required by the euro zone’s Stability and Growth Pact. But now it looks like the Dutch might break those rules themselves next year. The CPB survey projects that the Dutch budget deficit will hit 3.25 percent of GDP in 2004 -- above the three percent ceiling allowed by the Stability Pact rules. The Dutch Finance Minister has strongly dismissed the projections. A statement issued by the ministry said that the idea that the Netherlands was about to break the rules was "nonsense." A European Commission spokesman also said that the Commission did not expect the Netherlands to breach the rules. (EUobserver.com)