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Business

Top EU economy official warns against complacency

The EU's Economy Commissioner has told diplomats in Brussels the 27-member bloc must not slow down its reform efforts to get on top of the financial crisis. He has also directly addressed Cyprus' economic problems.

European Union member countries must continue to do their homework and keep up endeavors to wriggle out of their current crisis, the bloc's Economy Commissioner, Olli Rehn, said at a Friday meeting hosted by the European Policy Center think tank in Brussels.

"Even if there is less reason for pessimism at the start of 2013, we cannot afford to lower our guard," Rehn warned. He added that austerity measures and the deepening of eurozone integration would be a tough task, pointing to social tensions and the time needed to show results.

"Our patient may be out of intensive care, but it will still take some time before she can be given a clean bill of health," Rehn commented. "That's why any lapse into complacency would be unforgivable.

Cyprus in focus

Rehn called on Germany to shoulder more of the common burden.

"Over time, surplus countries are also expected to contribute to rebalancing," said Rehn.

The commissioner noted Berlin should work on opening up the services market and encouraging wages to rise in line with productivity.

Rehn also urged Cyprus to fully implement recently enacted laws on money laundering - an issue that had emerged as a key sticking point for paymaster Germany.

In an interview for Friday's edition of the German business newspaper Handelsblatt, Olli Rehn ruled out a sovereign bailout for Cyprus, adding, though, that financial help for ailing banks would be considered along the criteria already applied for Spanish lenders.

hg/kms (dpa, Reuters)