Steinbruck made the statement after meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány and Finance Minister János Veres in Budapest on Thursday. Steinbruck said he saw little difference between Hungary's convergence program and those of other new EU members. He added that Hungary is suffering similar economic problems as Germany. But Germany raised taxes, reduced state expenditures, cut social support and started a reform of the country's healthcare system. Last year, Germany's general government deficit was over the 3% limit allowed under the Maastricht criteria for the fourth year in a row, Steinbruck said. EU finance ministers have given the country until next year to narrow the gap. Friday's vote of confidence by Hungary's Parliament in the government's reform program and the person of the prime minister has a European dimension as well, Steinbruck said. It is in everyone's interest that Hungary maintain its standing as a trustworthy and stable partner, he said. (Mti-Eco)
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