| HELSINKI, Sept 12
HELSINKI, Sept 12 Portugal has got off too easy
for not reducing its budget deficit, and the European Union's
soft line poses a risk to its credibility, Finland's new finance
minister Petteri Orpo said in an interview.
With signs of euro scepticism growing in the bloc, Spain and
Portugal in July escaped being fined by the European Union for
not reducing their budget gaps to below 3 percent of their gross
"Spain does not have a government in place, so action
against Spain with no responsible administration would not
perhaps be very wise," Orpo, who replaced Alexander Stubb as the
finance minister in June, told Reuters in his office.
"But regarding Portugal, they do have a government, so I
think it would be necessary, according to the growth and
stability pact, to demand measures that will balance public
He said a suitable sanction could be to withhold money from
the EU's structural funds until sufficient reforms are under
"If there is no sanction at all, we will lose the
credibility of the monetary union."
Finland itself is struggling to get back to economic growth
after a long period of stagnation, and the EU last year warned
Helsinki about its rising debt and budget deficits.
"There must be some principles to hold on to, regardless of
the fact that we are on the same path ourselves," Orpo noted.
He said the Nordic country, known for its stiff opposition
to bailouts during the euro zone debt crisis, must practice as
it preaches and curb public debt growth along with the
government's 10 billion euro long-term savings plan.
Orpo, returning from his first European finance ministers'
meeting in Bratislava, also said he opposed proposed new fiscal
stabilization tools for the monetary union.
"This is not the time to invent new tools which will surely
face opposition in the member countries."
(Editing by Hugh Lawson)