EU's Schulz, Luxembourg want looser deficit rules to cope with refugees: media

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 04, 2015 9:39 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - The European Union should loosen its deficit rules due to extra spending caused by a record influx of refugees, the head of the European parliament and Luxembourg's finance minister both said in newspaper interviews on Sunday.

Calls for the EU to relax rules which say that states' budget deficits must not exceed 3 percent of gross domestic product are growing as the costs of dealing with refugees mount.

Austria has also said Brussels should consider exemptions for the rising cost of looking after refugees.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz told a group of German regional newspapers that the influx of refugees was an extraordinary burden that must be taken into account for the deficit criteria.

He said: "Given the huge burdens that individual countries are bearing in the refugee crisis, we can't just act like everything is in a normal state."

Luxembourg's Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna told German newspaper Handelsblatt that the European Union should loosen its deficit rules due to extra spending caused by the arrival of refugees.

"We should neutralize the extra expenses," Gramegna, whose country currently has the EU's rotating presidency, was quoted as saying.

He said the refugee crisis was "a real challenge", including financially, and said that asylum policy should be given the highest priority and the EU should take account of it.

"If there is a famine, we also don't say that we don't have any money any more due to our rules. Those who assume responsibility also have to keep an eye on the costs," he said.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin. Editing by Jane Merriman)