France finance minister vows to bring down debt without austerity

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France finance minister vows to bring down debt without austerity

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France’s new finance minister has promised to stick to the EU’s tough budget targets – but without resorting to austerity.

In Brussels to meet the bloc’s economy chief Olli Rehn, Pierre Moscovici insisted Paris was committed, to a previously set goal, to rein in French public spending to within 3 percent by next year.

‘‘Olli Rehn was just saying that it was possible for us to reach our deficit target of 3 percent in 2013 and a balance by 2017. I told him that it wasn’t only possible, but that it would be achieved. Without austerity measures: yes, we’ll do it!’‘ French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said.

Surely such statements will be music to the ears of EU officials. However, some observers believe it is not Brussels but Berlin that the French finance minister must win over.

“If the French are going to get any concessions, Germany is going to have to accept handing over more money, or something similar. Right now, that looks unlikely. In fact, I don’t think that the French finance minister will achieve much here in Brussels. If he really wants something he should go to Berlin,’‘ said Daniel Gros, Director of the Centre of European Policy Studies.

France’s current budget deficit stands at around 4.5 percent for this year.

Recently elected French President Francois Hollande has called for more growth measures, rather than austerity on its own, to bring the EU’s debts under control.