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Spain to Stimulate and not Penalise EU Countries on Economic Policy

Tue 12th Jan 2010

Spain's European Union presidency will favour incentives to meet targets for the bloc's 10-year economic strategy rather than penalties, a senior official said Tuesday.

Spain did not want to 'sanction, but to stimulate' EU countries to comply with the so-called 2020 Strategy, said Diego Lopez Garrido, secretary of state responsible for EU affairs.

The 2020 Economic Strategy is due to replace the EU's 2000 Lisbon Strategy, which was meant to make the EU the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by this year, and which is seen as having failed by a considerable margin.

The comments follow a diplomatic flurry after Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said last week the EU should adopt a 'binding' economic strategy.

Officials have denied he meant outright sanctions on countries failing to meet targets.

'What we want is to back initiatives that have to do preferably with positive stimuli to go in a certain direction,' Lopez Garrido told journalists.

The stimuli could include granting EU funds to member states investing in training, he explained.

An official debate on the new economic strategy is to be launched at the EU's extra summit on February 11.

Spain holds the rotating EU presidency until June 30.

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