Thursday

21st Jan 2021

Hollande 'grateful' for two-year extension on deficit

French President Francois Hollande, battling record unpopularity, a weak economy and high unemployment, on Wednesday (15 May) attempted to change the narrative of a country and president helplessly buffeted by outside forces and demands.

In Brussels exactly one year after he was inaugurated and following news that France has returned to recession, Hollande emphasized that Europe as a whole was in malaise and not just its second largest economy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"For some months countries have been in recession. For some years, others have. All member states are affected. France, as others, is also affected."

With Brussels insistently wagging its finger at Paris saying that its lack of reforms and lack of competitiveness is a threat to the whole of the eurozone, Hollande also sought to show he was the one in charge of domestic economic decision-making.

"We in France have carried out a lot of reforms over the last year. We have moved quickly. But we still have to carry out further reforms. Not because the European Commission is asking us to do so but because it's in our interest."

He said he was "grateful" France had been offered two years leeway to get its budgetary house in order. EU rules say the budget deficit must not be greater than three percent of GDP - a target France is set to miss this year. Meanwhile, the country's debt is set to exceed 93 percent of its GDP by the end of 2013. The EU sets a debt limit of 90 percent of GDP.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, for his part, played down a media interview he gave earlier on Wednesday calling for France to carry out "credible reform" insisting that journalists were making too much of the word "credible."

"Our starting point is good faith," said Barroso.

Any expectations Brussels has of France will be revealed next week (29 May), when the commission lays out its country-specific reforms report - a detailed exercise pointing to structural and competitiveness weaknesses in a country, and the changes it needs to make.

It will show the reforms that the commission thinks are "essential" said Barroso, noting that Hollande had in their meeting outlined the reforms already made and what he considered to be priorities.

On the difficult relations with Germany - highlighted by a poll released Tuesday which emphasized the different political and economic views of the two countries' populations - Hollande said he was against building up a front against Germany with more like-minded states such as Italy.

"That would not promote the interests of Europe."

But in reference to Berlin's strong stance on fiscal prudence, Hollande said cutting budget deficits too quickly does not lead to growth.

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

News in Brief

  1. First migrant tragedy of 2021 claims 43 lives
  2. Train revival needed to meet EU climate goals
  3. NGOs shame Monaco on persecuting UK whistleblower
  4. British music stars voice anger on Brexit deal
  5. Brexit prompted finance exodus from UK to France
  6. Italian PM Conte wins confidence vote in Senate
  7. Borrell washes hands of EU's Venezuela policy
  8. Russia backs Greece in eastern Mediterranean dispute

Budget deal struck, with Hungary threat still hanging

Ultimately, the European Parliament managed to squeeze an extra €16bn in total - which will be financed with competition fines the EU Commission hands out over the next seven years, plus reallocations within the budget.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. US returns to climate deal and WHO, as EU 'rejoices'
  2. Big tech: From Trump's best friend to censorship machine?
  3. Turkish minister in Brussels to discuss new migrant deal
  4. EU leaders to discuss vaccine certificates
  5. On Erdoğan and Europe's 'ontological' choice
  6. MEPs call to halt Russia pipeline over Navalny arrest
  7. EU targets vaccinating 70% of adults by summer
  8. Portugal pushes to start delayed 'future EU' conference

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us