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Split on Euro budgets

EUROPEAN finance ministers agreed that sanctions were required for states that break budget rules but France and Germany were split on how fast to tackle violators.

The governments of Portugal and Belgium came under fresh pressure to tackle their fiscal problems as European Union President Herman Van Rompuy said ministers agreed on the need for "a credible enforcement mechanism at the EU level".

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has outlined Berlin's support for automatic sanctions for rule breakers, including the suspension of voting rights and EU development aid. But French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde voiced opposition to the imposition of automatic sanctions.