Lower house approves debt-brake mechanism

The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday approved a debt-brake mechanism that would prevent future governments from borrowing and spending beyond their means. The bill sets a debt ceiling at 55 percent of GDP, lower by five percent than that outlined in the EU’s fiscal compact. It also envisages the creation of a fiscal council which would monitor adherence to the criteria set down. According to the proposal regions and municipalities would also need to have balanced budgets. The bill, which still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed by the president, should come into force on Jan 1, 2017.