Schulz and Juncker at loggerheads over France

  
Competitors for the European Commission presidency.

Jean-Claude Juncker describes Martin Schulz’s lax attitude to France’s public debt as a “serious political error”. EurActiv France reports.

The tone was turned up a notch between the two candidates for European Commission presidency this weekend. When asked how to deal with France’s public debt, Martin Schulz stated on the French news channel BFM (4 April) that he was ready to negotiate if necessary.

This startled Jean-Claude Juncker on Saturday (5 April). During a meeting in Berlin, the former prime minister of Luxembourg and candidate for the European People’s Party (EPP) said that this was out of the question.

“Serious political error”

“It is a serious political error that Martin Schulz wants, for the third consecutive year in a row, to allow France to exceed the 3% deficit limit. This goes against the Stability and Growth Pact – which I wrote as President of the Eurogroup” declared Juncker.

France was granted a delay until 2015 to lower its public deficit to 3% of GDP. However, in 2013, France failed to meet its initial targets. Worse still, total French public debt reached a new historical record of €2000 billion, 100% of GDP, when according to the treaties, public debt of Eurozone states should not exceed 60% of economic activity.

The new French budget minister, Michel Sapin, stated that France wants to negotiate with Brussels on the “rhythm” of public debt reduction.

A delay in Europe’s interest

“France is not on its knees asking, deploring […] it is in the common interest for Europe to find a good rhythm, the rhythm necessary to adapt to the situation” said Michel Sapin on French radio (3 April).

France's economy ministers travelled to Germany on 7 April to meet their German counterparts, and present the new measures of the “Stability Pact” announced by François Hollande in January.

No to Eurobonds

The candidates of the EPP established their economic policy by taking a stance against Eurobonds. They would allow member states to pool debt across the EU, and therefore alleviate the public debt burden.

>> Read: Public debt plan gaining momentum

“European obligations will definitely not be established in the next five years. They will only be considered when budget and economic policies converge and the EU can control national fiscal policies” claimed Jean-Claude Juncker.

 

Timeline: 

15 April 2014: Transmission of the macroeconomic forecasts for France 2014-2017

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Comments

Gerry's picture

Juncker is right, everybody follows the same rules or it will all fall apart. Schulz is too soft for the job. The French are retreating into funny arguments that seem to not relate to anything, The right thing might be to just screw up the pressure until somebody there wakes up and starts taking things seriously.

an european's picture

We need a depth pool for Member.States with good households consolidation now maybe later France could join after recovered from depth even the depth-master Greece could do it ..the question for Greece is only how and when...

an european's picture

We need a depth pool for Member.States with good households consolidation now maybe later France could join after recovered from depth even the depth-master Greece could do it ..the question for Greece is only how and when...