October 27, 2015 / 10:15 AM / 4 years ago

EU to give more budget leeway to states facing extra refugee costs

A waiter serves a pizza to a group of migrants waiting at the Austrian Slovenian border near the village of Sentilj, Slovenia, October 25, 2015. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission, which polices euro zone governments’ finances, will give more budget leeway to states that can prove to have suffered extraordinary costs to face the refugee crisis, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday.

“We are facing a problem of exceptional gravity,” Juncker said during a debate on the migration crisis in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Several euro zone governments have asked for more flexibility on EU fiscal rules - the Stability and Growth Pact — to cope with the costs of sheltering and managing the biggest flow of migrants Europe has seen since World War II.

“If a country makes an extraordinary effort, it must have this recognized,” Juncker said, adding that “countries that do not make an extraordinary effort or cannot prove it, will not have a more flexible interpretation of the Pact.”

Juncker confirmed that the Commission will carry out country-by-country analysis to assess the actual impact of the migration crisis on national budgets, but did not clarify which euro zone state may benefit from more leeway.

The Commission is analyzing euro zone draft budget plans for 2016 and will issue its assessments by the end of November.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Jan Strupczewski

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