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France off the hook for now

February 25, 2015

The EU executive has granted France two more years to bring its budget deficit below the bloc's limit of 3 percent of GDP. While avoiding a fine for now, Paris must now present new reform proposals.

Euro banknotes with a padlock (Photo: Patrick Pleul dpa/lbn)
Image: picture alliance/dpa

Following a regular review of some national budgets, the European Commission said Wednesday it would give France two extra years to fix its budget deficit, making clear that Paris would not have to pay a fine for now.

Likewise, there would be no immediate punitive action against Belgium and Italy, which had also been under scrutiny for excessive new borrowing.

The EU executive said France now had until 2017 to bring its budget deficit below the limit of 3 percent of gross national budget (GDP), after the government missed an already extended deadline for 2015.

Off the hook again

Since 2001, France has had a deficit below 3 percent only in 2006 and 2007 and has repeatedly missed consolidation deadlines, raising eyebrows in Brussels.

The extended deadline for France will come at a cost, Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis (pictured) told reporters at a news conference, hinting at the need for Paris to submit fresh and more far-reaching reform proposals to cut its current deficit.

"France has already announced reforms in the past few days," EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici - himself a Frenchman - said in a statement. "We expect France to present a more complete national reform program in April, which we'll consider in May."

hg/sgb (dpa, Reuters, AFP)