Eurozone Ministers Liberalize Terms for Spain

Posted March 13th, 2012 at 2:50 am (UTC-5)
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Eurozone finance ministers have granted Spain more leeway as it struggles to bring down its huge budget deficit.

The ministers meeting in Brussels Monday agreed to let Spain cut its deficit to 5.3 percent of its gross domestic product this year — higher than the 4.4 percent earlier agreed to with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

But the head of the eurozone ministers, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker says it is far more important that Spain cut its deficit down to the European Union ceiling of three percent by 2013.

Spain's 2011 budget deficit soared to 8.5 percent. It also has the EU's highest unemployment rate and has severely cut government spending.

Also in Brussels, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said “there is no more doubt” that the rescue package for Greece will be approved and signed later this week.

Last week, Greece secured agreements with private creditors to eliminate $142 billion of the debt it owed them. That cleared the way for the eurozone ministers to put their final stamp of approval for a new $172 billion bailout for Greece — its second in two years

Italy — the eurozone's third biggest economy — has confirmed that its economy has fallen into a recession, declining seven-tenths of a percent in the last three months of 2011. The Italian economy shrank with the government's adoption of austerity measures to cope with its mounting debts.