Europe looks at centralized budget reviews

June 9, 2011 at 5:15 PM

BRUSSELS, June 9 (UPI) -- The European Commission said it was time for European Union countries to submit their budgets to a centralized budget review.

The plan trumpeted by the head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso called for countries to go past simple spending cuts and work on steps to raise the retirement age, keep wage increases in line with production and shift, where possible, taxes away from income to sales tax, the EUobserver reported Thursday.

Barroso said, "We are now implementing the new system of European governance," announcing a series of steps in which the commission would review national budgets and let policy makers from each of the European Union's 27 members know what needed corrections.

Countries in the eurozone would be fined for failing to make the recommended corrections.

The fines would be set at a maximum of 5 percent of the country's gross domestic product. For example, the maximum fine for Spain would be about $7.6 billion.

"This is not about dictating policy. ... National governments retain responsibility for economic policies implemented in member states," Barroso said.

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