HELSINKI, Sept 9 The European Union should stick
to the deficit rules in its Stability and Growth Pact, the EU's
former top economic official Olli Rehn said when asked about the
bloc's July decision to not penalise Spain and Portugal for
breaking deficit limits.
Amid fears of growing euro scepticism in the bloc, Madrid
and Lisbon escaped being fined for not reducing their budget
gaps to below 3 percent of gross domestic product.
Asked about that decision, Rehn - currently Finland's
minister of economic affairs - told Reuters that the bloc should
obey its rules.
"(When assessing a member state's fiscal policy) it is good
to take into account such structural reforms that truly support
sustainable growth and employment," said Rehn, who stepped down
from the commission in 2014.
"But once we have agreed on these rules, they should also be
obeyed," he said. "But I'm not aware of all the details behind
the decisions on Spain and Portugal."
One of the arguments for scrapping fines was that Spain has
been effectively without a government since last December.
Mediocre growth, which could be further damaged by cuts in
public spending, was another.
Euro zone finance ministers discussed budget gaps in
Bratislava on Friday, and the leaders of southern European
states, due to meet later in Athens, are expected to push for
budget rules to be eased.
Rehn was the EU's top economic official during the euro zone
debt crisis. He has applied for a seat on the board of the Bank
of Finland as he looks to switch from government to monetary
(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell; Editing by