Members of the Green Party, the junior partner in Germany's coalition government, said they don't expect the country to face a record deficit in 2004 as predicted by the government's economic experts. "Right now there's no sign of that happening," Antje Hermenau, the Greens' budget expert in parliament, told the
Berliner Zeitung newspaper
. She added that it would take until the fall until estimates of Germany's new debt could be made. The government's five-member panel of independent economic experts, known here as the "wise men," had previously said they expected the deficit to come in at just under 4 percent of gross domestic product. In 2003, the deficit had been 3.9 percent and experts had previously expected a 2004 deficit of 3.4 percent. Germany has been facing sanctions from the EU for failing to adhere to the union's stability and growth pact, which requires members of the euro zone to keep deficits below 3 percent of GDP.