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Germany, France 'irresponsible' to fight pension liability disclosure

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  • Germany, France 'irresponsible' to fight pension liability disclosure

EUROPE - Proposals for European Union countries to disclose off-balance sheet public pension liabilities have been met with resistance by a "highly irresponsible" group of countries, including Germany and France, according to a UK MEP.

Sharon Bowles, chair of the European Parliament's economics committee (ECON) and member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, said the move demonstrated that some single market governments were "blind to the most basic lessons" of the sovereign debt crisis.

The decision to disclose estimates of accrued public pension liabilities was first made in 2007, when the EU adopted a revised version of the European System of National and Regional Accounts.

However, the new disclosure agreements for national and regional accounts now being challenged formed part of the European Union's new fiscal pact, reinforcing previous rules that countries should not exceed 3% new debt each year.

Bowles said that trialogue negotiations were suspended yesterday after resistance from Germany, Italy, France and Portugal.

"With memories still fresh of the disastrous consequences of statistical cover-ups in Greece, the parliament believes it is highly irresponsible behaviour on the part of those member states," the MEP said.

"It is saddening and worrying that the gulf between what government representatives say and in the end do is still as wide as ever. This is not the road to credibility."

She added that the countries' refusal to disclose information relating to public pension liabilities, as well as guarantees extended to banks and public corporations, cast doubt on whether the proposed banking union would succeed.

The MEP, elected in 2005 after her predecessor won a seat in the UK parliament, said a "coalition of the shy" was now attempting to "wriggle out" of promises made.

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