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BATTLE OF THE BUDGET

EUROPE

Merkel fires budget warning towards France

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel fired a thinly veiled warning in the direction of France on Thursday when she stressed "all" member states must respect the budget rulebook. It's widely expected that Brussels will reject France's 2015 budget.

Merkel fires budget warning towards France
German Chancellor Angela Merkel fired a fiscal warning in the direction of France on Thursday. Photo: AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday she was confident that the European Union would enforce its own budget rulebook with debt sinners, as France faced a reckoning in Brussels.

Speaking to parliament, Merkel noted the entire EU had signed up to the Stability and Growth Pact regulating fiscal discipline.

"All, and I stress here all, member states must fully respect the strengthened rules of the Stability and Growth Pact," she said.

"Only then can the Pact fulfil its purpose as the main anchor for stability and above all confidence in the eurozone.

Without mentioning France by name, Merkel said she was "sure" that the "current and future European Commission is aware of the primary responsibility that it bears for maintaining the credibility of the Stability and Growth Pact".

Paris announced last month that next year's budget deficit – the shortfall between revenue and spending – will hit 4.3 percent of annual economic output, far above the 3.0-percent ceiling set by the European Union for member states.

The deficit is not expected to drop to this level until 2017.

The European Commission, the EU's executive branch, has two weeks to decide whether countries' budget submissions break the rules.The Commission has new powers to enforce the deficit limit, and could for the first time send the budget back to Paris for changes to a national spending plan.

Failure to reach a deal could alarm global financial markets and cause a political crisis at a time when Europe risks slipping into a triple-dip recession.

Germany is said to be working behind the scenes to give Paris a way to avoid disgrace, while also securing a far firmer commitment to reform, notably of strict rules controlling the labour market.

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SEX

France taken to European Court over divorce ruling that woman had ‘marital duty’ to have sex with husband

A case has been brought against France at the European Court of Human Rights by a woman who lost a divorce case after judges ruled against her because she refused to have sex with her husband.

France taken to European Court over divorce ruling that woman had 'marital duty' to have sex with husband
Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

The woman, who has not been named, has brought the case with the backing of two French feminist groups, arguing that the French court ruling contravened human rights legislation by “interference in private life” and “violation of physical integrity”.

It comes after a ruling in the Appeals Court in Versailles which pronounced a fault divorce in 2019 because of her refusal to have sex with her husband.

READ ALSO The divorce laws in France that foreigners need to be aware of

The court ruled that the facts of the case “established by the admission of the wife, constitute a serious and renewed violation of the duties and obligations of marriage making intolerable the maintenance of a shared life”.

Feminist groups Fondation des femmes (Women’s Foundation) and Collectif fĂ©ministe contre le viol (Feminist Collective against Rape) have backed her appeal, deploring the fact that French justice “continues to impose the marital duty” and “thus denying the right of women to consent or not to sexual relations”.

“Marriage is not and should not be a sexual servitude,” the joint statement says, pointing out that in 47 percent of the 94,000 recorded rapes and attempted rapes per year, the aggressor is the spouse or ex-spouse of the victim.

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