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BUDGET

Germany rejects Spanish plans to penalise EU budget breakers

Germany has rejected Spanish proposals to impose sanctions on European Union members that miss economic targets.

Germany rejects Spanish plans to penalise EU budget breakers
Zapatero - idea rejected Photo: DPA

Spain currently holds the rotating EU presidency and wants to push for a form of European “government” on economic issues to replace the EU’s long-term growth strategy.

The new initiative would include both incentives to perform and “corrective measures” for failure, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Thursday.

But while German Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle said he welcomed the idea of EU members better coordinating their economic policies, he warned against creating “a new bureaucracy.”

“I do not think the idea of imposing sanctions on member states for not fulfilling fixed targets is sensible,” Brüderle said in a statement on Saturday. “Up to now, the Lisbon strategy has been based on a partnership approach without sanctions and we ought to continue that.”

The Lisbon Agenda, as the old strategy was known, was supposed to make the EU the world’s most competitive economy by 2010 but never achieved its aims as governments were under no obligation to conform.

Spain will launch the initiative at a summit in Brussels on February 11 which will focus on ways to revive sluggish growth.

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ECONOMY

Sweden boosts spending on civil defence in spring budget

Sweden is to channel a further 800 million kronor to local government and other organisations to bolster Sweden's civil defence capabilities, the country's finance minister has announced.

Sweden boosts spending on civil defence in spring budget

The new funding, which will go to municipalities, regional government, and other organisations, was announced of part of the country’s spring budget, announced on Tuesday. 

“This will strengthen our ability to resist in both war and peace,” Sweden’s finance minister, Mikael Damberg, said in a press conference. “If the worst happens, it’s important that there is physical protection for the population.” 

The government is channelling 91m kronor towards renovating Sweden’s 65,000 bomb shelters, and will also fund the repair the country’s network of emergency sirens, known as Hesa Fredrik, or Hoarse Fredrik, many of which are currently out of order. 

A bomb shelter in Stockholm. Sweden’s government is spending 800m kronor in its spring budget to boost civil defence. Photo: Anders Wiklund/ TT

Sweden’s Social Democrats are currently ruling on the alternative budget put together by the right-wing opposition, making this spring budget, which makes changes to the autumn budget, unusually important. 

The budget includes extra spending of some 31.4 billion kronor (€299m), with 500m kronor going to extra spending on healthcare,  and 10.3 billion kronor going towards supporting Ukrainian refugees, of which nine billion will come from the aid budget. 

The spring budget also includes the so called “pension guarantee bonus”, or garantitillägg, which will see four billion kronor (€390m) going to those with the lowest pensions. 

The bonus, which was the price the Left Party demanded for letting Magdalena Andersson take her place as prime minister, risks being voted down by the right-wing parties in the parliament. 

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