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Vienna , 09 July 2012 Fekter on 2012 economic report: “We have to use the momentum created by the current wave of reforms to cut the deficit further” Restoring confidence in the Eurozone by striking the right balance of budget consolidation and growth measures

“The newest economic data show that Austria is on the right path and is well-positioned to be an international competitor. In comparison with many other European countries, we are in much better shape”, Austrian Finance Minister Dr Maria Fekter stated at the presentation of 2012 economic report by the Austrian federal government.

Nevertheless, she said, it will not do for the government to rest on its laurels. Rather, she stated that Austria must continue to push energetically for the ambitious budget and economic targets it has set for itself. “We must continue undeterred along our path of budget consolidation. Thus, our motto is: Structural consolidation and reform”, Dr Fekter said. In detail this means correcting excessive deficits by 2013, achieving a balanced budget by 2016 and reducing the ratio of state debt to under 60% of GDP by 2020. The government intends to aggressively pursue structural reforms in the areas of pensions, healthcare, public administration, subsidies and the labour market, and to invest in education, universities, research and development and infrastructure in order to actively promote growth and employment. “What matters is striking the proper balance between budget consolidation and growth measures. However, economic growth policies and sound state finances are not a zero sum game, very much to the contrary: If we make sensible cuts, then this will create a basis for sustainable investment”, Finance Minister Dr Fekter emphasised.

At the EU level, Dr Fekter said, Austria must continue to contribute actively to discussions on the future of the European project. In particular, this means being an aggressive advocate for the tax on financial transactions and for a banking and fiscal union. “Europe must speak with a loud, clear voice so that its message is heard throughout the world. Austria will make sure that its own distinctive voice is a part of that message”, Dr Fekter underscored.

“Our 2012 economic report shows that we are moving in the right direction. I say: We will need to continue to ensure in a timely way that we create sufficient leeway for action so that we are able to appropriately react to whatever crises may arise in future. We must continue to work together to sustain an economically stable and unified European Union. Only by doing so will we achieve sustainable economic strength in Austria and the EU over the longer term ”, Finance Minister Dr Fekter stated in closing.