Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

EU calls for budget deficit cuts

Athens skyline
The EU criticised Greece for not taking action to cut its deficit

Thirteen members of the European Union have been told to take action and get their budget deficits back in line.

EU requirements mean that they should not exceed 3% of the country's GDP. However, since the financial crisis most countries have broken that rule.

Deadlines ranging from 2012 to 2014 have been issued.

France, the UK, Spain and the Irish Republic have longer to comply because their economies have worsened since the original deadline was imposed in April.

'Bite the bullet'

France has already warned that it will not meet the new deadline. The government wants to focus on boosting growth rather than cutting spending.

Germany and six other countries have until 2013. Belgium and Italy have the tighter deadline of 2012.

The BBC's business correspondent in Brussels, Nigel Cassidy, said the EU's economy commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, saved his harshest criticism for Greece. Mr Almunia said the country had taken "no effective action".

Our correspondent said: "Ultimately the message from Brussels is straightforward enough. Economic crisis notwithstanding, the named countries must bite the bullet and act now to cut their borrowings".

He says that will mean tax rises or benefit cuts in order to bring budget deficits under control.

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