* EU to complete fiscal rules review by Dec 14
* EU Commission can propose changes to exiting laws
* Support growing for simplification of fiscal framework
By Ingrid Melander and Martin Santa
LUXEMBOURG, June 20 The European Union will
review its fiscal rules at the end of this year to see if they
can be made simpler and tweaked to encourage growth and jobs
after years of budget consolidation.
Planned since the rules were tightened in 2011, at the
height of the debt crisis, the review will focus on whether
those changes have worked and if countries are now coordinating
economic policies better.
The European Commission, which has to complete the review by
Dec. 14, can propose changes to the laws in reports sent to EU
governments and the European Parliament. While the review is
unlikely to lead to changes to the complex set of rules used to
monitor economies and their adherence to targets, it could be
critical at shifting how they are interpreted.
"It's what we have had in mind, an evaluation of the whole
question," Austrian Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger said
on Friday on entering a monthly meeting of EU ministers, adding
that "the detail and the question whether we need so many rules
and complicated calculations is critical".
The review will also look at whether the fiscal framework
aids economic growth and job creation - a key argument made by
Italy, which takes over the rotating presidency of the EU from
July and will be involved in preparing the review.
The International Monetary Fund has called for the Stability
and Growth Pact to be simplified and EU Economic and Monetary
Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn and the chairman of the euro
zone's finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, have said there
is room to do so.
Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Thursday that EU
budget rules should not be changed again after major revisions
in 2005, 2011 and 2013, but that governments should fully use
the leeway already built into the Stability and Growth Pact.
Because the review will be tackled by a new European
Commission, which should take office on Nov. 1, the approach to
how EU fiscal rules are interpreted has become a bargaining chip
in talks on the new head of the EU executive.
Italy hasn't yet given its support to leading candidate
Jean-Claude Juncker, seeking a more pro-growth interpretation of
the rules. Without the backing of Italy, Juncker's candidacy
might be blocked by a minority coalition led by Britain.
(Additional reporting by Annika Breidthardt; Writing by Jan
Strupczewski; Editing by Catherine Evans)