The European Commission has said it will refrain from punishing eurozone nations not able to bring their budget plans in line with deficit rules. Some will get three extra months to make adjustments.
France, Italy and Belgium have been be granted until March of next year to bring their 2015 budgets in line with EU rules, the European Commission said Friday.
Brussels had been assessing the eurozone nation's draft budgets under a new system meant to spot financial trouble early on. Only Greece and Cyprus were not scrutinized as the two nations were still undergoing international bailout programs.
Following the assessments, the EU executive could have decided on immediate punitive and disciplinary action against eurozone nations not getting their act together.
"But I made the choice not to sanction," Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement. "It would have been easy to punish the countries which do not respect the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact - we only needed to apply the foreseen procedures. But I chose to let them talk, and to listen."
France and Italy had faced particular pressure in recent months as analysts expected their budgets to run afoul of EU rules.
Other countries also found at risk of overspending included Malta, Austria and Portugal. By contrast, the budgets of Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovakia were all given the green light.
hg/cjc (Reuters, dpa)