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News Summary: EU eases austerity drive

The Associated Press

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso gestures while speaking during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. The European Union announced Wednesday to grant France, Spain and four other member states more time to bring their budget deficits under control to support the bloc’s shrinking economy. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

EASING UP: The European Union gave member states France, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia more time to bring their deficit levels under control so that they can support their ailing economies.

THE HITCH: The EU Commission, the 27-nation bloc's executive arm, said the countries must instead overhaul their labor markets and implement fundamental reforms to make their economies more competitive.

THE BACKDROP: Europe is stuck in a recession — which has led to an increasingly bitter debate over the merits of austerity as a way to solve the region's problems economic problems.