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Dutch minister: U.S. sacrificing growth for politics would be 'tragedy'

From Nina dos Santos, CNN
March 1, 2013 -- Updated 2214 GMT (0614 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The U.S. is facing $85 billion in spending cuts that will begin to take effect on Friday
  • The cuts are a product of the sequester, a series of automatic cuts to government spending
  • Timmermans says the euro area will gradually move toward more fiscal cohesion

(CNN) -- U.S. politicians must not sacrifice economic growth for the sake of political differences, according to Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans.

The world's largest economy is facing $85 billion in spending cuts that will begin to take effect on Friday.

Timmermans told CNN's Nina Dos Santos that Europe is eager to see growth in the U.S. and says it would be a "tragedy" if tribal politics hinders progress on economic expansion.

He added: "I do hope that our colleagues in Congress will be responsible enough to solve that problem."

The cuts are a product of the sequester, a series of automatic, across-the-board cuts to government agencies, totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years. These would be split 50-50 between defense and domestic discretionary spending.

Timmermans also commented on the outlook for the eurozone.

Speaking in the wake of the Italian elections on Monday, the Dutch minister said he is "fairly confident" that Italy will find a solution to its political problems as it has done in the past.

The elections in Italy -- the eurozone's third-largest economy -- ended in political deadlock this week following a three-way battle between center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and comedian Beppe Grillo.

Timmermans believes political stability is needed in the 17-nation eurozone to implement genuine reform following a debt crisis that has plagued the region for over three years.

He says the euro area will gradually move toward more fiscal cohesion while the difference with the 10 European Union nations outside the single currency area should remain "as small as possible."

The UK in particular is trying to renegotiate its relationship with the 27-nation trade bloc and has promised a referendum on EU membership by 2017.

He added: "I think we already have a two or multi-tier Europe in many domains and I think Europe is so diverse that we need different speeds on different subjects. I'm not afraid of that."

CNN's Oliver Joy contributed to this report

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