6th Jul 2022

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.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey signs Nato protocol despite Sweden extradition row
  2. European gas production hit by Norway strike
  3. EU Commission told to step up fight against CAP fraud
  4. Ukraine needs €719bn to rebuild, says PM
  5. Germany records first monthly trade deficit since 1991
  6. Pilots from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden strike
  7. Report: EU to sign hydrogen deal with Namibia
  8. Israel and Poland to mend relations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. 'World is watching', as MEPs vote on green finance rules
  2. Turkey sends mixed signals on Sweden's entry into Nato
  3. EU Parliament sued over secrecy on Nazi MEP expenses
  4. Italy glacier tragedy has 'everything to do' with climate change
  5. The Digital Services Act — a case-study in keeping public in dark
  6. Report slams German opposition to new child sexual abuse rules
  7. Is China a challenge to Nato? Beijing responds
  8. ECB announces major green shift in corporate bond-buying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us