Not for the first time, a French president has found himself at odds with EU policy. On Monday, Nicolas Sarkozy told a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels that he could not guarantee to balance his country’s budget deficit by 2010. The French president’s economic reforms are based on a plan to cut taxes and reduce unemployment but critics say the move will push France’s deficit above the guideline of three percent agreed by the EU.
There has already been some opposition from within the group but Sarkozy is adamant: “It is important to set guidelines which we can stick to. I will do everything in my power to meet the targets for 2010, but if we don’t manage it before 2012, then I will be the first person to put my hands up and say sorry.”
The president of the Eurogroup, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker, gave the idea his backing:
“What is important is that France is embarking on a programme of reform which will benefit not only the French themselves but also Europe as a whole. So, tonight’s message is ‘yes’ to the reforms, and ‘yes’ to the president’s plan because it corresponds in a broad sense to our midterm objectives.”
The Eurogroup is made up of 13 finance ministers from the Eurozone. The last head of state to plead his case was Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2004.