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Zapatero takes back penalty claim

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Spain’s prime minister gets tangled up in the details of the policies. It hails trouble for suggesting the growth of the EU economy drive by a penalty for reformfaule States – now Foreign Minister Zapatero takes back the proposal.

Madrid — José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero taking a step backwards in the discussion on a new course in the European economic. On Friday, the Spanish Prime Minister and incumbent EU Council President, had made more far-reaching proposals for an intensified growth strategy. On Monday, now Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos announced that they were not official.

The Volte was preceded by a weekend in which Zapatero increasingly into Crossfire of criticism was advised. Senior political leaders denounced the "corrective measures", which had called for Spain’s prime minister.

They indicate that the 27 EU member states should formulate including binding targets for energy and transport projects for research, technology and education projects and those equipped with long-term investment plans. Some media, including the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung", interpreted such requirements as EU-wide coordinated fiscal stimulus.

This should be enforced according to Zapatero, a pinch with the crowbar. Thus, the Spaniard suggested sanctions as a bargaining chip. Countries that are not fulfilled their commitments within a decade would have to face a penalty, he threatened. For example, the reduction of payments from the EU budget is possible. "We will put the on the table of the EU summit. But I do not know what will come of it," Zapatero said on Friday.

On Monday, now Foreign Minister Moratinos denied that Zapatero wants to impose sanctions for countries that do not sufficiently promote their economic growth.

Political diversionary tactic?

The idea of sanctions was met with rejection, especially in Germany. Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle emphasized that he considered the punishment of Member States not to be appropriate. "The current Lisbon Strategy is based on a partnership approach with no penalties, we also should continue to pursue," said the FDP politician. Task of European Union it must be primarily to complete the internal market and remove remaining restrictions on competition. "I would warn against creating a new bureaucracy."

Earned criticism, the proposal also from the CDU. "This is something we do not have in Europe," said Deputy Chief Michael Fuchs Union Group, the "Frankfurter Rundschau". Zapatero tried through with a "maneuver" the "would distract from their own negligence in terms of growth and fiscal policy."

The deepening of the EU’s economic policy, the "Strategy 2020", is the main theme of a special EU summit on 11 Be February in Brussels. Spain is so different from the economic crisis than any other European country affected – it has not felt the impact of the recession by its own economic stimulus programs previously under control.

The construction sector, which once accounted for one third of economic output, is located on the ground. The productivity in comparison to other countries is declining steadily. And the International Monetary Fund estimates that the Spanish budget deficit will swell 2009 at 12.3 percent.