Euro Rule 'Sinners' Should Lose Voting Power, Says Vienna
Austrian Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser has proposed a radical new punishment for countries such as France and Germany that persist in breaking the strict rules governing the euro.
In comments reported by the
Süddeutsche Zeitung, Austrian Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser said that the punishment for such states "must be really applicable" and suggested that they could temporarily lose their EU voting rights if they break the rules for three consecutive years. Austria is one of the biggest backers of upholding the EU's budget rules, which stipulate that no member of the 12 country euro zone may run a deficit of more than three percent of its gross domestic product. Under these rules - known in Brussels jargon as the "Stability and Growth Pact - countries can in theory be fined billions of euro if they consistently break this ceiling. But this "sanctions procedure" was effectively suspended last November when France and Germany - who have broken the rules for the past two years - persuaded their fellow finance ministers to suspend the procedure. Under Grasser's plan, both France and Germany - which are expected to break the ceiling next year - would lose their voting power. The European Commission declined to comment on the specific proposals but welcomed the fact that member states were involving themselves in the debate over economic policy in the EU.