EU budget flexibility cannot undermine rules - EU's Katainen

Jyrki Katainen, Finland's Prime Minister and leader of the National Coalition party, gestures while delivering his farewell speech at the party's congress in Lahti, June 13, 2014. REUTERS/Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva

MILAN (Reuters) - EU budget rules provide leeway for governments that, despite best efforts, miss consolidation targets, but the case for such flexibility has to be made on economic grounds and cannot undermine the credibility of the rules, the EU’s top economic official said on Friday.

EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Jyrki Katainen said the challenge the European Union was now facing was how to use the 28-nation bloc’s budget rules to support the implementation of structural reforms.

“Our fiscal rules allow for some flexibility providing an economic case for adjusting targets can be made,” Katainen told a news conference.

“Yet the case for flexibility should not in any way undermine the credibility of the whole framework,” he said.

The remarks come as a response to an announcement by France that it will no longer honour its commitments under EU budget rules to cut its budget deficit below 3 percent of GDP by next year, but that it will only do so in 2017.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski