EU: Austerity Era Has Run Its Course

France and Spain fell short of their budget deficit goals last year and debt levels swelled across the euro zone but the pressure may be easing on Paris and Madrid as the European Commission signals an end to sharp spending cuts.

Outlining the state of Europe’s accounts in 2012, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said on Monday that France posted a deficit of 4.8 percent of economic output, higher than its 4.5 percent target. Spain’s shortfall was the largest in the EU.

With budget cuts blamed for a second straight year of recession, the EU’s top economics official Olli Rehn indicated over the weekend that more flexibility on tough economic targets was needed. His boss, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, said on Monday that austerity had reached its natural limits of popular support.


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