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'We're more responsible now': France dismisses EU worries over Macron's budget

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'We're more responsible now': France dismisses EU worries over Macron's budget
Photo: AFP
08:39 CET+01:00
France insisted Thursday that it was on course to wrestle its deficit back within European Union limits, after Brussels expressed concern that Paris might not meet the bloc's tough spending rules.

President Emmanuel Macron is "totally determined" to deliver a deficit below the EU-mandated three percent of gross domestic product this year for the first time in a decade, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

"The France that makes light of its European commitments, that's over," Le Maire told the Senate.

"The France that doesn't worry about the good upkeep of its public finances, that's over."

Macron sees lowering his deficit as key to earning credibility with other European leaders as he pursues ambitious EU reforms.

France and Spain are the only eurozone countries to remain under the EU's "excessive deficit procedure" -- which can lead to sanctions.

To be given the all clear, they need to register a deficit-to-GDP ratio below three percent for two years.

Brussels said in its assessment Wednesday that there was "a risk" Paris might not hit its targets, though it is currently on track to register a
deficit ratio of 2.9 percent this year and next year.

The EU singled out six eurozone countries -- France, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Slovenia -- on Wednesday as having worrying finances.

France's debt levels earned particular criticism -- they are set to hit 96.9 percent of GDP next year, far over the bloc's target of 60 percent.

A large majority in the lower house on Tuesday voted through Macron's first annual budget, which attempts to strike a tricky balance between lowering taxes while cutting costs to lower the deficit.

The Senate is now debating his spending plans, which have come under attack from the left due their tax cuts for the rich.

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