Bulgaria set to leave EU deficit blacklist

By bne IntelliNews May 31, 2012

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The European Commission recommended on May 30 that Bulgaria join an exclusive list of EU countries to be omitted from excessive deficit procedure, after it ducked under the 3% of GDP threshold in 2011, and reiterated plans to go after an ambitious target in 2012.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called for Bulgaria, along with Germany, to be removed from the EDP, which is designed to push member states to trim their deficits to below the limit set out by the Maastricht Treaty. The spotlight has been turned on deficit levels by the EU's fiscal compact - an austerity-led response the debt problems in the Eurozone.

Bulgaria narrowed its budget gap to 2.1% last year, from 3.8% in 2010. and now aims to slash that to just 1.36% in 2012. Thanks to robust growth of 3%, Germany squeezed its deficit to 1% in 2011, and is targeting a gap of 0.9% this year.

Whilst the EcoFin meeting of state finance ministers on June 22 will actually have the final say on whether to release the pair from EDP, the recommendations of the commission are a strong indicator. Bulgaria has "sustainably corrected" its fiscal shortfall "in a durable manner," EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told reporters according to Bloomberg.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov thanked Barroso for the recommendation to strike Bulgaria from the blacklist, according to his government's press office. "The results achieved by Bulgaria are appreciated. After Moody's Investors Service confirmed on Monday Bulgaria's stable outlook, the decision of the EC is the next positive assessment of this country," Borisov said in a statement.

Should Bulgaria and Germany exit the EDP in June, they will join an exclusive club of member states free from the programme, which currently lists just four members: Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden.

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