Lisa Bryant
VOA News
January 14, 2012

European leaders hit back Saturday at the downgrade by Standard & Poor’s of the credit ratings of nine European nations, calling the move unfounded and inconsistent.

From Larnaka to Brussels, European Union officials were on the defensive Saturday, downplaying the downgrades while vowing to push through fiscal reforms.

In a widely anticipated move, the rating agency downgraded by a notch the ratings of five European countries, including the region’s second-largest economy France. It downgraded four others – Italy, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus – by two notches.

The finance minister of Cyprus called the move “arbitrary and unfounded.” The Austrian government also criticized the measure. European Economic and Monetary Commissioner Olli Rehn called the downgrades inconsistent.

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