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8/18/16

EU: Brussels lacks stomach for a fight -=

The turbulence created by the vote for Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump has left many craving a bit of predictability. And while Russian President’s Vladimir Putin’s military maneuvers may be familiar, they’re hardly reassuring.

So there is something comforting about the European Union choosing not to punish Portugal or Spain for breaching its rules on budgetary discipline.

A decision to give the two countries more time to bring their deficits down was waved through by the Council of Ministers last week, on a proposal from the European Commission.

In refraining from punishment, the EU treads a familiar path. Most famously and formatively, France and Germany were spared penalties in 2003, in the early years of the Stability and Growth Pact. Since then, the Commission has occasionally threatened retribution, but the Council has routinely supplied mercy.

The treatment meted out to Spain and Portugal amounts, at least on the surface, to a return to normalcy — in the European context, a détente between the EU institutions in Brussels and national governments.

Broadly speaking, the most serious clashes between the EU and the national governments that make up its membership take one of two forms. A country can find itself outvoted when legislation is being created. Or it can be punished for failing to comply after the legislation has been passed.

Read more: Brussels lacks stomach for a fight – POLITICO

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