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EU set to end 'excessive deficit procedure' for Greece after 8 years

EU SET TO END EXCESSIVE DEFICIT PROCEDURE FOR GREECE AFTER 8 YEARS

After eight years of toil by the Greek people, the European Union says that Greece's budget is no longer breaking the bloc's rules.

Eight years after opening disciplinary procedures against Greece for breaching deficit rules, the European Commission recommended on Wednesday the process be dropped.

The decision to end the so-called excessive deficit procedure needs to be approved by EU member states, but it is considered a sign of Greece's fiscal and economic recovery. Athens has been bailed out three times since 2010.

Under EU rules, member states need to keep their deficit under 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). In 2009, when excessive deficit procedures were initiated, Greece had a deficit of 15.1 per cent of GDP. In 2016, the country reported a surplus of 0.7 per cent.

"This is a very symbolic moment for Greece. After so many years of sacrifices by the Greek people, the country is finally reaping the benefits of its efforts," Pierre Moscovici, the EU's Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs said.

Greece's debt ratio - 179 per cent of GDP in 2016 - is the highest of any government within the EU. One out of every five eligible workers in Greece is unemployed, giving the country the highest jobless rate in the 28-member bloc.

France, Spain and the United Kingdom remain in breach of the EU's budget rules.

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