Italy, Spain Standing in Way of EU Growth Pact, Officials Say

EU leaders have agreed a package to stimulate growth in their economies, but Italy and Spain have refused to sign up to it because they want Germany to approve short-term measures to ease their borrowing costs first, EU officials said.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy announced the 120 billion euros ($149 billion) deal at a news conference, saying it would consist of more capital for the European Investment Bank and project bonds for infrastructure.

But Italy, Spain and some other countries want the euro zone to agree steps to help bring down their high borrowing costs first, including steps to buy their government bonds in order to bring down yields.

"We're in favour of the growth pact and there is a deal on the content, but before we sign it we want a comprehensive deal including short-term measures," a Spanish government official said.

Another official said that France, the strongest backer of the growth pact, had also raised concerns about a deal in part because it does not want stricter measures on budget restraint to be introduced as soon as planned.