France president Emmanuel Macron “lost authority” by releasing a budget draft which would exceed the EU’s 3% deficit limit, Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger said on Thursday (27 December) in an interview.
France said last week that its headline deficit could grow to 3.2% of output next year from the 2.8% initially planned.
Macron is under heavy pressure following violent protests at home to ease the impact of fiscal reforms.
The European Union will accept France running a budget deficit higher than the EU’s 3% ceiling next year, as long as it is a one-off event, Oettinger said.
“Under this condition, we will tolerate a national budget deficit higher than 3% as a one-time exception. However, it must not continue beyond 2019,” Oettinger told Funke media group in an interview.
Brussels had already reviewed the French budget a few weeks ago and the EU’s executive body would not revisit it again, Oettinger said.
“It crucial now that Macron continues his reform agenda, especially in the labour market, and that France remains on its growth track,” Commissioner insisted.
Confident on Brexit vote
Oettinger also commented on the upcoming Brexit vote during the interview, insisting that there is still a chance that Britain’s parliament will vote in favour of the Brexit agreement in January and that there was no public support for a disorderly Brexit or another referendum.
“It is not entirely unlikely that the British parliament will vote for the divorce agreement in January,” Oettinger said. “There is certainly no majority for a disorderly Brexit or for a new referendum,” he insisted.
Oettinger said that the likelihood of Britain remaining in the EU had increased slightly over the past few months. “Nevertheless, I assume that it will come to an exit at the end of March,” he said.
Prime Minister Theresa May has struck a withdrawal agreement with Brussels but she was forced to postpone a parliamentary vote on it earlier this month after admitting she would lose by a large margin. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29.