Germany's new Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück is making waves by suggesting an unusual way of avoiding EU sanctions which Brussels could impose over Berlin's non-compliance with the stability pact.
Steinbrück to approach EU for budget assistance?
The weekly news magazine, Der Spiegel reported that Steinbrück has proposed putting Germany's federal budget for 2006 under the supervision of the European Commission.
According to the report, which does not say from where the information was obtained, the finance minister is expecting the EU Commission to step up its measures against Germany, which has run up a budget deficit in excess of the acceptable three percent of gross domestic product for four consecutive years.
Last year, Germany chalked up a 3.3 percent deficit, which although lower than the Commission had originally expected, is still significant enough to warrant EU sanctions.
The news magazine says Steinbrück will make it clear to the EU Currency Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia that Germany is not seeking an escalation in the situation, but is willing to submit to tighter controls. Were the federal budget to be under Commission supervision, Steinbrück would have to present a detailed breakdown of the development of the budget report on a three-monthly basis.
Spiegel concluded that Steinbrück expects Germany to become compliant from 2007 onwards.