European Union will tighten securitization rules for budget gaps

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s statistics office tightened accounting rules yesterday for the use of securitization operations by governments as a way to clean up their public accounts. Several EU countries, such as Italy and Greece, have used revenues generated by public assets as security to raise money for cutting deficits or debt without it weighing on their books, helping them to satisfy EU budget rules. Eurostat said in a statement it had decided, after a review of its rules dating to 2002, that all securitization of fiscal claims – tax credits or delays in payments to social security – by governments should be treated as government borrowing. Also, the existence of a deferred purchase price clause, or of similar arrangements, should lead to the classification of a securitization operation as government borrowing, it said. The statement listed other circumstances when securitization operations will be classed as government borrowing, such as when assets involved in a deal can be substituted. «The rule changes are applicable to all operations concluded after January 1, 2007,» the Eurostat statement said. «All past and future flows relating to securitization operations undertaken between 2003 and 2006 should continue to be evaluated under the 2002 framework,» it said. Since 1999, Italy has issued asset-backed securities for around -44 billion, of which about half were based on fiscal claims.

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