POLITICS
15/11/2013 12:05 GMT | Updated 15/11/2013 12:16 GMT

Brussels Launches Review Into Germany's Export Surplus

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso attend a press conference after the "Conference on Promoting Youth Employment in Europe" in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, July 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Axel Schmidt)

The European Commission has launched a review into whether Germany's export surplus is undermining the European Union's economic recovery, which has sparked outrage among German officials.

Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, said officials wanted to see if Germany "could do more" to help their European partners. He stressed that the annual review was looking at 15 other countries including France and was triggered by European rules aimed at stopping member states amassing too much money at their neighbours' expense.

He said the move aimed to ensure that "what is good for individual states is also good for the EU" and called for "bolder" policy action from Germany.

Barroso added: "I expect the German authorities to fully understand and back our approach. If there is a country that has emphasised the need to be objective, to respect the rules, it has been Germany.“

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Germany enjoyed a €19.7bn (£16.6bn) of exports over imports from the rest of the world in 2012, which even beat China's surplus.

German officials have reacted with fury to the Commission’s decision, with Bundesbank head Jens Weidmann warning that the country would not "choke" off its exports. "We may still have a high surplus but largely with countries outside euro," he added.

The Commission is concerned that the German exports boom is harming crisis-hit countries like Portugal, Greece and Italy.

Tory MP Bill Cash, chair of the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, told the Huffington Post UK: "I said long ago that we'd either see a German Europe or a European Germany. I suspect they will be considering what they get out of the European Union."

France, Italy and Hungary have also been told to take "decisive policy action" to avoid breaking the EU's economic rules.

Stephen Booth, research director of the Open Europe think-tank, told HuffPostUK: "This is a foretaste of what's going to happen more often. If the eurozone is going to be a success, it does require a lot of co-ordination between economies."