17th Feb 2019

Ministers play down French budget row

  • France must stick to the EU's budget rules, Eurogroup ministers warned on Monday. (Photo:

EU finance ministers played down the prospect of a row with France at their monthly meeting on Monday (13 October), but insisted that the bloc's rules on budget deficits and debts had to be respected.

Speaking with journalists following the Eurogroup meeting, Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the 18-member Eurogroup, conceded that there had been "a little peer pressure".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"There are clear rules on budgets that have to be followed," commented Dijsselbloem, although he conceded that the EU could not force France to re-write its budget. "In procedural terms the French prepare their own budget ... and they will make their own budget," he said.

"I am confident that the French government will send a strong and sound draft budget," he said.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaueble remarked that he was “confident that a solution can be found in the case of France,” but that “the European rules exist to be followed".

French finance minister Michel Sapin set out a 'no austerity' budget earlier this month, officially abandoning the 2015 deadline handed by the EU to reduce its deficit in line with the bloc's stability and growth pact.

Its 2015 budget plan is projected to result in a 4.3 percent deficit in 2015, and the economy is not forecast to reach the 3 percent of GDP threshold until 2017.

Both France and Italy have been criticised in recent weeks over the budget plans.

At a conference of business leaders in Rome, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi announced tax cuts worth €18 billion, alongside €16 billion of new spending cuts. Last month, Renzi raised the target for Italy's 2015 deficit from 1.8 percent of GDP to 2.9 percent, close to the EU limit.

Meanwhile, the incoming economic affairs commissioner, Jyrki Katainen, indicated that EU officials will start examining the figures from Wednesday, the final deadline that countries have to submit their budget plans to the European Commission.

The EU executive will then make its recommendations at the end of the month.

Ministers also discussed ways to boost investment, particularly in infrastructure projects, as a way to stimulate growth.

Dijsselbloem reiterated that reform programmes should be linked to access to EU investment funds, commenting that "we need a mix of structural reforms, investments and monetary policy".

He added that the EU could support extra investment in countries which commit to structural reform programmes that were "front loaded and not just promised".

Schaueble ruled out using the EU's bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), as an investment vehicle, but indicated that the European Investment Bank (EIB) could be given more capital.

“We won’t do this by using the capital stock of the ESM but, where appropriate, by a necessary increase in the capital of the EIB,” Schaueble said. “We have plenty of options".

France wants billions from EU's 'New Deal'

France wants €10 billion a year from the EU’s “New Deal” fund, amid warnings that its budget profligacy could harm the “credibility” of EU financial rules.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.


Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?

There can be no more excuses for business. They will be held for responsible for their failure to take action to prevent the risk of human and labour rights through their supply chains.


Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project


Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us