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BRUSSELS - The European Commission welcomed on Sunday an agreement by Belgian parties on the country's 2012 budget, which aims to bring the government deficit to levels recommended by the European Union (EU).

The budget agreement was reached by six Belgian parties on Saturday, one day after ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Belgium to AA from AA-plus, citing uncertainty over the country's funding.

"I welcome the agreement presented by Mr Elio Di Rupo today on the measures to underpin the Belgian federal budget with the aim of bringing the general government deficit to 2.8 percent of GDP in 2012, as recommended by the EU Council, and of paving the way for further consolidation in 2013 and 2014," said Olli Rehn, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner.

"Mr Di Rupo's announcement that the budget law should be worked out very soon is equally important, as it should provide for a swift and full assessment by the European Commission under the excessive deficit procedure," Rehn added.

The structural reforms announced by the parties to restore fiscal discipline and enhance competitiveness would be "assessed in due time against the EU's Country Specific Recommendations, in the context of the European Semester," said Rehn.

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