BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. ratings agency Standard & Poor’s is wrong to think the euro zone is excessively focused on budget austerity and the timing of its downgrades of nine euro zone countries was “odd,” the European Commission said on Monday.
“We believe that the EU collectively and the euro area member states individually are taking the necessary action, and have and will continue to take the necessary action to support the EU economy,” European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly told a daily news briefing.
“The idea expressed by the ratings agency that Europe is pursuing a strategy based on a pillar of fiscal austerity alone is a serious misperception.”
S&P, one of the three major ratings agencies, lowered the ratings of France and Austria from the top AAA grade by one notch to AA+ on Friday, and took similar action against Spain and Italy and five other countries. The decision came despite efforts by the euro zone to show that it is getting its fiscal and economic house in order.
“We take note indeed of what Standard & Poor’s decided last Friday, but we believe, as vice president Rehn and the Commission have said, that it is inconsistent on substance and it’s really odd as far as the timing is concerned,” Bailly said.
Writing by Luke Baker; editing by Charlie Dunmore