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Greece leaves EU’s deficit sin bin



The EU turned a page on the eurozone debt crisis Monday as it formally removed Greece from its excessive deficit procedure, the bloc’s penalty box for overspending by member states.

Three countries now remain in the procedure — Britain, Spain and France — which is down from 24 at the height of the eurozone debt crisis in 2011.

The decision, formally approved by the EU national governments on Monday, “is recognition of the tremendous efforts and sacrifices the Greek people have made to restore stability to their country’s public finances,” said the EU’s Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Pierre Moscovici.


“This turnaround has no parallels in Europe,” he added.

Greece’s deficit soared to above 15 percent of GDP in 2009, an amount that shocked the world and triggered the crisis that nearly saw the end of the euro single currency.

After three painful EU-IMF bailouts, Greece last year posted a surplus equivalent to 0.7 percent of GDP and is forecast to strike a deficit ratio — of a still low 1.2 percent — in 2017.

The latest rescue programme, runs to August 2018 and Athens then hopes to fully return to borrowing on the financial markets.

Under European Union rules, eurozone countries are not allowed to run up deficits in excess of 3.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and must aim to balance their public finances in the medium term.

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