Euro zone ministers are set to approve a second bailout for Greece on Monday, before turning their attention to Spain as the country edges closer to missing a crucial European Union (EU) budget deficit targets again this year.
Last week Greece managed to persuade 85.8 percent of creditors holding its Greek law bonds to agree to a restructuring and bond swap deal, instantly wiping out over €100 billion ($130 billion) from the country's crippling debt burden and unlocking the vital €130 billion ($172 billion) EU/IMF bailout.
But as finance ministers meet to finalize the Greek payout, concerns have been raised that Spain may become the next challenge for the EU as the currency bloc struggles to keep its debt-ridden Southern members afloat.
It emerged that ministers will be having a serious discussion about the failure of the Spanish government to meet its agreed budget deficit targets for 2011 and 2012.
Spain will be subject to serious discussion today, both because of the method and the substance of their announcement, Reuters quoted one euro zone official involved in preparing for today's meeting as saying.
Spain was one of the first euro zone countries to impose strict austerity measures in response to its crisis and planned to cut its budget shortfall to 6 percent of GDP in 2011 and by 4.4 percent in 2012.
However, last year, the government announced the country would miss its 2011 target by 2.5 percent and earlier this month announced it would only aim for a cut to 5.8 percent
Ministers still maintain they will reach the 2013 goal of 3.0 percent.
They will have to be questioned, I think there are no real reasons for missing the target this year, a second EU official involved in the talks told Reuters.
Despite rising unemployment, which currently stands at 23 percent, and an economy that is predicted to contract by 1 percent in 2012, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Monday that Madrid would to honor the target of a 3 percent deficit next year.
Spain wants to fulfill its European commitments, which we have taken voluntarily and thus our actions will be in line with the recommendations to Spain from the council in 2009 and from the Commission, Rajoy said, according to Reuters.
We will talk in the next days, in April and May, with the Commission and the Council and our objective is to comply and reach in 2013 a deficit of 3 percent of GDP, he said.