01:28 GMT03 June 2020
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    Politicians in the Green party in the European Parliament have heavily criticized the European Commission for giving Germany "special treatment" and for being over-tough on Italy in its latest report into the financial state of each of the Eurozone countries.

    The Commission has published its latest assessment of the state of the economy of each of the countries that are part of the Eurozone single currency area, which demands that member states stay within certain fiscal rules — notably on deficits. Under the rules, member states' budget deficit must not exceed 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) and public debt must not exceed 60% of GDP.

    ​It singled out Italy for particular admonishment, saying: "Italy is experiencing excessive imbalances. High government debt and protracted weak productivity dynamics imply risks with cross-border relevance looking forward, in a context of high non-performing loans and unemployment."

    The Commission said that, unless Italy gains control of its public finances, it could face sanctions under the excessive deficit procedure — which could lead to fines being imposed on Rome.

    ​However, the Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) group in the European Parliament said the commission was being unduly harsh on Italy compared with a more lenient approach to Germany, which is running a "persistently high current account surplus" and is experiencing "imbalances."

    "The EU Commission is using double standards. When it comes to the breaking of rules, the EU Commission treats Germany more leniently than Italy or France. While Italy is facing toughened austerity measures, the EU Commission is reluctant to start a procedure against Germany," Greens/EFA financial and economic policy spokesperson, Sven Giegold, said.

    Euro banknote
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    "The special treatment of Germany evokes a discomfort in Europe. It nourishes the reproach of a German Europe. If the EU Commission consistently applied its own rules, it would have to initiate proceedings against Germany's high export surplus, which threatens the proper functioning of the Economic and Monetary Union. The European Commission's unequal treatment of countries damages cohesion in Europe." 

    The commission report said that, in Germany — which is running a high surplus — public investment has increased in recent years, "but as a proportion of GDP still appears low compared with the euro area. Despite low interest rates that create favourable financing conditions, business investment on GDP is still subdued."

    "Germany should increase its spending on investment and specifically raise low wages. This improves the living conditions in Germany, instead of pushing our partner countries further into debt. Conversely, France and Italy must intensify their economic reform efforts geared towards social and environmental sustainability," Giegold said.

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    Tags:
    single currency, monetary union, eurozone, Green Party, Greens/European Free Alliance, European Commission, Italy, Germany, Europe
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