TALLINN (Reuters) - The European Union’s top economic official on Saturday warned against funding national growth packages with new debt and urged governments to stick with structural reforms and cuts to fiscal deficits as the route out of the region’s economic crisis.
The election of new president in France on a platform calling for growth-oriented economic policies opposed to German lead calls for continued fiscal austerity has opened a debate on economic policy direction at both the national and EU level.
“We cannot solve this crisis by piling new debt on top of old debt which is already damaging our economic growth prospects,” Olli Rehn, Europe’s commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said in panel presentation at a conference in Tallinn.
The commissioner added, “first of all it is essential to stay on the course of fiscal consolidation because we are suffering from a very high level of public debt which has increased from 60 percent on average to 90 pct in Europe.”
However, Rehn was upbeat on Spain’s banking sector rescue package, which was released on Friday, after the bursting of a real estate bubble hammered many of the nation’s lenders.
“Our assessment is that this is a very convincing plan of action in order to ensure Spain will have a resilient and viable banking sector, which is necessary, not a sufficient, but a necessary condition for returning to the path of sustainable growth,” Rehn said.
Reporting by David Mardiste; Editing by Toby Chopra