01/14/2012 06:12 EST | Updated 03/15/2012 05:12 EDT

French prime minister says government will pursue reforms after ratings downgrade

PARIS - Ratings agency Standard & Poor's is defending its decision to downgrade nine European countries, reiterating that Europe's leaders aren't doing enough to solve their debt crisis.

Several European officials assailed the agency Saturday for its announcement of the downgrades the night before, both in countries that were targeted and in Germany, which was not.

S&P analyst Moritz Kraemer said in a conference call Saturday that government measures aren't sufficient to restore confidence and that austerity packages may prompt a backlash.

Agency spokesman Martin Winn dismissed suggestions that the agency's decisions were political and could further hurt indebted countries. He says "the track record of our sovereign ratings as indicators of default risk worldwide is very strong."