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Europe

Ministers to Scrap Over Euro Rules Reform

At the top of the agenda of a two-day meeting of euro zone finance ministers starting Monday in Brussels is the proposed reform to the EU's Stability and Growth Pact -- the rules underpinning the single currency.

A packed agenda awaits finance ministers from the euro zone as they gather in Brussels Monday evening for a two-day meeting. At the top of the agenda is the proposed reform to the EU's Stability and Growth Pact The rules which underpin the single currency have caused huge controversy, with half of the 12 euro countries either in breach of them or enduring difficulties meeting them. They are likely to be changed to take more account of member states' different economies. Economics and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia wrote Monday in The Financial Times, "A union of 25 cannot afford a one-size-fits-all fiscal policy given the differences between the structures of each country's economy." Germany -- the biggest net payer into the EU budget -- has been pushing for the special status of net payers to be taken into account when performing the deficit calculation. Berlin also wants to see certain types of spending, such as research, excluded from the deficit "bottom line." Ministers will also discuss the special case of Greece, which admitted in September that it had underestimated its deficit figures from at least 2000 onwards, causing it to overshoot the cap on member states' budget deficits at 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). (EUobserver.com)

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