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EU could penalise Austria over budget

The European Union could place financial penalties on Austria in response to government plans to delay achieving a structural zero deficit until 2016, rather than next year.

The possibility of the EU complaining to Austria about their policy that conflicts with European economic aims was mentioned by Austrian Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger on Friday.

Spindelegger said that he expects a complaint from the EU and said that the European Commission could "make an example of Austria" on the issue of budget deficits.

Financial penalties, if introduced, would equal to 0.2 percent of GDP or 620 million EUR, although the European Commission may just be satisfied with filing a complaint with the country and deciding against fines.

Austria's public debt is currently 79 percent of the country's GDP. Spindelegger has said he wants to bring this percentage down to 75 by 2016 but "without imposing new burdens on citizens through tax increases".

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