Twenty-five of the European Union’s 27 member states decided during Monday’s summit that they would accept stricter budget rules in an attempt to rule out a new European debt crisis in the future.
The Czech Republic opted out of the deal during the summit, citing constitutional problems. Great Britain had already refused to sign up to the agreement for political reasons.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he regretted that the two countries were not part of the budget agreement. However, he described the absence of the Czech Republic as not being “a problem with a capital p”. He went on to say that it was “a shame, of course: the more [countries], the better”.
The latest EU deal is designed to win back the confidence of the financial markets. The 25 EU members have committed themselves to keeping their budget deficits within agreed limits and to mirroring Germany’s debt cap system. They have also accepted stricter monitoring of their budgets and the imposition of tougher penalties by Brussels.
No free ride
“Absolutely no country will get a free ride,” said Mr Rutte after the summit. He thinks the new agreement is much better than its predecessors. He hopes the deal will make it more difficult to reverse critical decisions about countries taken by the European Commission. He also highlighted the role to be played by the European Court of Justice in imposing penalties on countries as a last resort.
Mr Rutte said he didn’t expect Great Britain would object to EU institutions being used to enforce the new treaty which is to be officially signed by EU leaders during the next summit on 1 and 2 March.
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