Austria’s austerity plan is to raise €1.17bn from tax increases and €1.6bn in public spending cuts. The objective is to return the public deficit below 3% of GDP by 2011.
Using an emergency procedure, the Czech parliament approved an austerity package of measures that includes cuts in social benefits, public services and tax changes. The aim is to reduce the public deficit to 4.6% of Gross Domestic Product.
The situation in Finland is two-sided: on the one hand there have been some positive developments in tax changes and in social benefits; on the other hand, a “productivity program” is being implemented by the government which aims to reduce the number of public employees.
The French Government announced an austerity plan that would involve €45bn in spending cuts over the next three years (€11bn per year which corresponds to 0.55% of GDP per year). Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the cuts were aimed at bringing France’s public deficit back down to the European Union’s limit of three percent of gross domestic product by 2013.
An austerity package of €10bn was approved on the 27th of October 2010. The plan of the German government is to have a fiscal retrenchment of €80bn by 2014 broken down as follows €11.2bn in 2011, €18.6bn in 2012, €23.6bn in 2013 and €26.5bn in 2014. The aim is to have a deficit of 0.35% of nominal GDP and to keep the debt below 20% of GDP.
In May 2010 Greece agreed to receive a €110bn bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. Under the terms of that loan program, Greece must cut its budget deficit by 5.5% of gross domestic product in 2010 and aim for a deficit of 8.1% of GDP, but the latter is expected to be higher. To continue to receive the loan disbursements in 2011 Greece must narrow its budget gap further, to 7.6% of GDP.
Hungary has had four consecutive plans of fiscal adjustment which started in 2006 and were implemented by three governments and included an IMF-EU rescue package (2008).
The collapse of the Icelandic banks in October 2008 initiated a period of deep recession of the national economy. From the fiscal perspective it meant that the budget surpluses changed to deficits and on top of that the government took over large amounts of the new debt.
To date 3 deflationary budgets, which have taken €14.5 billion out of the economy, have been approved. The Government says it needs to cut a further €15 billion over the next four years (for a total of €29.5bn which is equivalent to 19% of the country’s GDP), to meet the target of 3% of GDP by 2014. Meanwhile, Ireland is in its third year of recession and unemployment has more than tripled from 4.3% (end of 2006) to 13.9% today.
After having denied the reality of the economic crisis for months, in May 2010 the Italian government announced a budget bill of €24 billion in cuts and savings in public expenditure. This law, highly criticized by unions, should come into force in early December. Other laws regarding labour market reforms complete the pattern of measures.
On 10 April 2010 the Luxembourg government proposed an austerity package which the unions refused. Following the mobilization of the unions before and after the summer, some of the austerity measures have been withdrawn with the agreement of 29th of September. However some inacceptable measures still remain.
The official position of the Maltese Government is that Malta did not have to resort to austerity measures to counterbalance the effects of the international financial crisis and the recession that ensued. However, several important cuts and reforms have been adopted.
The public debt [close to 55% of the GDP] and budget deficit are the foundation of savings strategy adopted by the government. Poland definitely was not hit by the crisis as hard as some of the western economies, but still there was a slowdown to only 1.7% GDP growth in 2009, and a moderate 3% in 2010 [forecast]
The set of austerity measures adopted in Portugal include cuts in public employees’ salaries and in social benefits. Some tax changes have also been introduced which will primarily affect workers.
Romania decided to adopt very strict austerity measures which have especially hit the public sector in order to receive a €20bn bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Madrid has promised European counterparts to cut its deficit to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) next year, from 11.1% last year. The total austerity package proposes additional savings of €15bn between 2010 and 2011. The aim is to trim Spain’s budget deficit from 11.1% of gross domestic product last year to 9.3 % this year and get it down to 3% by 2013.
To reduce the deficit, the Government intends to cut the amount it spends by at least £83bn (€98bn) by 2015 or around 14% of all public spending. There will be some tax rises but the major share of the savings will come from cuts.
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