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European Commission: Finland's economy among worst in EU

The European Commission says it wants further clarification from Finland about the government's 2016 budget plans. The commission says that Finland's economy remains among the worst in the EU, and says it suspects that Finland and six other European countries are running afoul of EU budget rules.

Petteri Orpo.
Finland's Minister of Finance Petteri Orpo. File photo. Image: Petteri Taalasmaa / AOP

A letter from the European Commission to Finland's Minister of Finance Petteri Orpo said that the country's public deficit figures are too high. According to a commission recommendation, the budget deficit should be reduced by 0.6 percent of GDP.

In a press release issued on Wednesday Orpo said that he is taking the commission's reprimand seriously and said he would reply to the letter on Thursday. Finland's preliminary budget plan is based on the government's budget proposal, the economic programme of municipalities and supplementary budgets for 2016.

So far in EU history, the European Commission has reportedly never had to ask a member country to adjust its budget plans, which underscores the gravity of the situation.

While Orpo said that the economic situation of Finland is serious, he said it is not the worst in its class.

"We have to account for the structural reforms and savings programmes that we have committed ourselves to," Orpo said.

After that the European Commission will assess whether their response is adequate or whether the commission will demand that Finland re-work its budget plans, Orpo said.

The Commission is reportedly most concerned about economies in the countries of Finland, Italy and Cyprus.

CORRECTION: Edited at 8:05 am October 27, 2016 to reflect that European Commission guidelines recommend that deficits should be reduced by 0.6 percent of GDP annually.

EDIT: Updated at 15.37 on October 28 to reflect that the European Commission recommended that Finland should improve its structural deficit by 0.6 percent of GDP and is not a general commission guideline.

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