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Europe's new austerity measures

30 May 2010, 11:55 CET
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(PARIS) - Several European countries have adopted tough austerity measures in a bid to drive down debts and deficits after Greece's near-bankruptcy earlier this year threatened to engulf financial markets.

Here are the main austerity measures announced in Europe so far:


Britain's new coalition government has condemned "wasteful" spending and has announced 6.25 billion pounds (9.08 billion dollars, 7.16 billion euros) of cuts -- incurring anger from trade unions but praise from investors.

The measures include a freeze on civil service recruitment and reductions in numerous programmes inherited from the previous Labour government such as information technology projects and consultancy contracts.


The government in Denmark, which has one of the most generous social welfare systems in the world, has said it wants to slash unemployment and family benefits and ministers' salaries. The plan still needs parliamentary approval.


The French government has announced a three-year freeze on public spending starting in 2011 and wants to raise the official retirement age from 60 after it was lowered from 65 under former president Francois Mitterrand.


The Greek government announced cuts of 4.8 billion euros in March and followed that up with 30 billion euros in cuts in May in a bid to reassure financial markets and bring down its sky-high public deficit.

The new measures include an increase in the sales tax and cuts in civil service salaries. The government is also planning an overhaul of the pensions system to reduce costs and is stepping up the fight against tax evasion.


Ireland adopted two austerity plans in 2009 totalling seven billion euros in a bid to bring down its public deficit to 11.5 percent in 2010 from a shocking 14.3 percent in 2009 -- the highest level in the eurozone.

The measures include a reduction in social welfare payments and cuts of between five and 15 percent in civil servant salaries.


The Italian government has approved austerity measures worth 24 billion euros for 2011-2012. They include a three-year freeze on pay for civil servants, wage cuts for ministers and new taxes for stock options and bonuses.


Portugal has announced an austerity package including a rise in sales tax by one percentage point to 21 percent and a cut in salaries for public officials as well as an income tax surcharge for high earners.

The measures come on top of an austerity plan announced earlier this year that includes a delay in public investments and the sale of state assets, as well as reductions in salaries for civil servants.


The Spanish parliament on May 28 approved by just one vote a 15-billion-euro austerity plan, which includes a pay cut for civil servants. The cuts are on top of a 50-billion-euro austerity package announced in January.

The measures include a pay freeze from 2011 for civil servants. Pensions, except for the poorest, will also be frozen in 2011.

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