The European Union said on Tuesday (17 November) it was ready to take French security priorities into account after France said it was likely to break eurozone deficit rules due to the Paris attacks.
European Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Tuesday (17 November) that the executive could offer France leeway on its budget to take into account security priorities in the wake of the Paris attacks.
“One thing that is clear in the current circumstances is that in this terrible moment the protection of citizens, the security of citizens in France and Europe is the absolute priority,” Moscovici, a former French finance minister, told a news conference dealing with the review of all EU state budgets.
“The rules of the stability pact do not stop member states from defining their priorities. We understand that the priority is security,” Moscovici said.
President François Hollande on Monday (16 November) pledged to spare no expense to reinforce and equip its security and law enforcement forces to fight terrorism, even though that would take the budget deficit beyond European limits.
In Brussels, Moscovici said the tough budgetary rules imposed by the Commission after the eurozone debt crisis were “neither rigid nor stupid, they are capable of dealing with situations.
“It is in that spirit that we are in discussions with the French government.”
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls confirmed earlier that France would exceed its spending targets ? which had aimed to reduce the deficit below 3% of economic output by 2017 ? in order to fund extra police and military.
“We have to do this and Europe should understand this,” Valls told France Inter radio. “It is also time that the EU, the European Commission, understand today that this battle concerns France, and also Europe.”
The show of fiscal solidarity came just hours after EU defence ministers unanimously backed a French request for military assistance in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Moscovici said EU budget rules had flexibility to allow for states to respond to “unexpected circumstances” but that the EU would reassess the French budget in light of new spending ? though there had so far been no effect on the 2016 budget.
“We will reevaluate all possible budgetary expenses of these new developments,” Moscovici said. “It is too early to say how they will impact France’s budgetary trajectory.”
Valdis Dombrovskis, European Vice-President for the Euro, told the same news conference that France had room for manoeuvre within the EU budget rules.
France, which has been seen as the eurozone’s number one problem since 2014, now appears to have dropped off the Commission’s radar.