Ratings agency Moody's on Monday cut credit ratings of six European countries including Italy, Spain and Portugal, and put France, Britain and Austria on negative outlooks citing growing financial macroeconomic risks.
Italy's debt rating was downgraded from A2 to A3, Spain from A1 to A3, and Portugal from Ba2 to Ba3, the agency said. Ratings of Malta, Slovenia and Slovakia was also cut by one notch.
Moody's said Monday's actions was driven by uncertainty over the implementation of institutional reform in the euro area and whether enough resources had been allocated to boost competitiveness.
Europe's increasing weak macroeconomic prospects, which threaten the implementation of domestic austerity programs and structural reforms, as well as fragile market confidence also led to the rating cuts, it said in a report posted on its website.
In an apparent response to Monday's rating change, British finance minister George Osborne said the country must stick to slashing budget deficit.
"This is proof that, in the current global situation, Britain cannot waiver from dealing with its debts," finance minister George Osborne said.