France's public deficit in 2014 stood at 4.0 percent of gross domestic product, instead of the 4.4 percent estimated previously, the national statistics agency said on Thursday.
Finance Minister Michel Sapin hailed the unexpected figures, saying they raised the possibility the public deficit in 2015 could stand at 3.8 percent of GDP instead of the 4.1 percent currently estimated.
The 2013 public deficit in France, the eurozone's second-largest economy, stood at 4.1 percent of GDP.
Under European Union rules, members' public deficits — the difference between government spending and revenue — cannot exceed 3.0 percent of economic output.
France has repeatedly been above this figure and earlier in March won a two-year reprieve to get its public deficit within the bloc's limits.
Under the controversial decision — which came amid accusations that bigger EU member states are treated more leniently than smaller ones — France got until 2017 to work down its public deficit to 2.8 percent.