EU Commission recommends several member states to slow pace of austerity cuts to help economy

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The European Union is granting France, Spain and four other member states more time to bring their budget deficits under control to support the bloc's shrinking economy.

The EU Commission, the 27-nation bloc's executive arm, said Wednesday in a series of country-specific policy recommendations that nations must instead implement structural reforms, such as overhauling labor markets to make economies more competitive.

Besides France and Spain, the Commission is also granting the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia more time to bring their deficits below the EU ceiling of 3 percent of annual economic output.

Europe is stuck in a recession, with unemployment at record highs in several countries. But continuing to trim deficits has been worsening the economic downturn, lowering government revenues and making it harder to meet the deficit targets.