EU ends action forcing Greece to reduce its deficit

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has ended its procedures meant to force Greece to reduce its deficit as the country gets its books back in order despite being mired in debt.

EU headquarters said Monday that Greece's "deficit is now below 3 percent of GDP," the ceiling for European government deficits.

Estonian Finance Minister Toomas Toniste said that "after many years of severe difficulties, Greece's finances are in much better shape."

Greece's debt stood at 179 percent of GDP last year. The country only stayed in the euro single currency zone thanks to massive international loans keeping its finances afloat.

But Greece recorded a budget surplus of at 0.7 percent of GDP in 2016, and while a small deficit is forecast this year the EU says the Greek fiscal outlook is improving.