European Union finance ministers have agreed there should be tougher sanctions against countries that break budget rules.
They were meeting to discuss changes to the way the 27 nations coordinate economic policy.
In future countries that break deficit limits could lose EU money and voting rights.
The move is aimed at shoring up the struggling euro and preventing an escalating debt crisis.
“These measures are essential when you simply look at the level of deficit we’d got to,” said Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders. “But it’s not enough to look at how we’re going to reduce the deficit in Greece or elsewhere. We must also look at positive ways of creating jobs, of generating business.”
The debt crisis has continued to play havoc with the euro. Investors have shunned the 11-year old currency which fell to a four year low against the dollar over the last few days.
But there are fears that austerity measures aimed at reducing deficits could damage the economy.
“We can only get more sustainable economy if we also have better economic growth in the future and not only a very restrictive budgetary plans,” said analyst Karel Lannoo. “Because otherwise we will never get there and otherwise we would be like Greece eventually on a downward spiral.”
euronews correspondent Sergio Cantone in Brussels said finance ministers wanted budgetary discipline for member states to come under the control of an external body such as the European Commission.
“But although they’ve agreed on the principle of sanctions they haven’t agreed on what the measures should be,” he added. “In fact many countries especially the less disciplined want something more to be done to stimulate economic growth.”