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EU to review excessive German trade surplus

The European Commission will launch an in-depth review into Germany’s high current account surplus to see if its strong exports undermine EU markets. Germany stands accused of creating dangerous economic imbalances.

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German Foreign Trade - Export strength under fire

On Wednesday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso announced that the body would scrutinize Germany's high current account surplus to see if it was affecting the functioning of the EU's economy as a whole.

Barroso sait that the in-depth review was meant to determine whether Germany could do more to help rebalance the EU economy.

In September, Germany's trade surplus hit a record high as exports exceeded imports by 18.8 billion euros ($25.2 billion). As a result, the United States as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) criticized the country saying it was causing problems for its eurozone partners.

Noting that Germany had a special responsibility within the eurozone, Barroso also said, however, that the real problem went beyond the country's ability to compete.

"The problem is much more that others are still far from that level of competitiveness," he added.

The probe against Germany comes within the framework of the EU's macroeconomic imbalances procedure, which looks into economies that run trade surpluses exceeding 6 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) for years. It doesn't mean that a country under review is automatically at risk of facing EU sanctions. However, punitive measures could be applied down the road if a state failed to address the imbalances. They might amount to a fee of 0.1 percent of a country's GDP, which in the case of Germany would mean several billion euros.

In 2012, the European Commission launched similar reviews against Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

uhe/mkg (dpa, AP, Reuters)

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