European Commission warns France, Italy, 6 others of budgets

A European Union flag flown next to the Houses of Parliament in London on September 22, 2017. The European Commission warned several countries about their budget deficit on Wednesday. File Photo by Will Oliver/EPA-EFE

June 19 (UPI) -- The European Commission announced a crackdown on member states that have not balanced their books, including some of its most prominent leaders in France and Italy, along with host Belgium.

The commission formally warned the countries over their growing budget deficits, an oversight that had been suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with Belgium, France and Italy, the commission also warned Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Romania. The commission said it was especially concerned about Romania, which had been warned previously about its unbalanced finances.

"Longstanding structural challenges are holding back the EU's competitiveness," EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said, according to Euro News. "We look forward to receiving national fiscal structural plans from member states that bring down debt and deficit and reflect today's recommendations."

The so-called Excessive Deficit Procedure was created to wrangle spending in countries that routinely blow past their EU-mandated 3% GDP-deficit ratio.

"[The EDP this year] doesn't involve stigma because it reflects the collective situation of half of the eurozone after the extraordinary period involving COVID-19 and so forth," Jeromin Zettelmeyer, lead of the Bruegel think tank in Brussels, told Politico.

The news could not have come at a worse time for France and President Emmanuel Macron, who called for snap elections after the far-right conservatives made impressive gains in the EU Parliament elections. His ruling coalition could lose power in the risky elections, turning him into a lame-duck president for the remainder of his term.