Wall Street Journal
December 18, 2012
The European Commission rammed home the need for countries with high debt and deficit levels to reduce them before they are overwhelmed by the demands of aging populations, largely absolving member states with big current-account surpluses of blame for the region's woes.
A long-awaited report on countries with "persistently large" current-account surpluses said rebalancing was already under way in some, notably Germany. Still, it urged those countries to do more to rebalance their economies by stimulating demand at home—chiefly in liberalizing their markets for services, and financial services in particular.
National current accounts measure the difference between the values of a country's combined exports and imports of trade and services, as well as the net income flows from investments.
The report is likely to disappoint countries such as France and Italy, which have long complained that their exports suffer from policy choices in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, both of which run persistent surpluses.
The commission has prescribed detailed targets and policy recommendations for countries with deficits, but has shied away from doing so for those member states running a surplus.