Spiegel Online (Link) - Jess Smee (September 30, 2010)
On Wednesday, the European Commission presented tougher sanctions for countries flouting debt rules. The plans, designed to avert another Greece-style crisis, came under scrutiny in the German press on Thursday. Commentators welcomed a more powerful Brussels -- assuming that countries can agree on the small print.
It happened back in the spring, but memories are painfully fresh for finance ministers across Europe. For a while it looked like Greece’s debt crisis might end up bankrupting the country and could even endanger the common currency, the euro.
Now, the European Commission has suggested a series of tools to avoid a re-enactment of the Greek drama. Among the stiff new penalties outlined on Wednesday, it wants automatic fines for countries failing to properly steer their finances. The plans aim to give teeth to the Stability and Growth Pact, which was set up to keep member states’ national deficits in check -- but has been broadly ignored by national governments in the bloc.
Speaking on Wednesday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the new rules “mark a sea change in the way economic governance is dealt with in the European Union.”