France unveils deficit reduction law

16th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The French government unveiled Wednesday a project for a constitutional amendment that would oblige the country to work towards balancing the state and other public budgets.

The plan would not go as far as Germany's automatic debt brake, but oblige the government to fix a trajectory to return public accounts to balance and would give the Constitutional Council the power to invalidate annual budgets that break the limits.

The government would always be able to revise the budgetary framework given changed economic climate.

France has a long history of spending more than the revenue it raises, but following the Greek debt crisis last year the government has spoken out seriously about the need for the country to bring its finances back into balance.

France's public deficit is expected to come in at a record 7.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year as the government spent billions on stimulus measures to ensure economic recovery.

It plans to bring the deficit down to six percent this year and three percent in 2013 to bring it back into line with EU requirements.

The French government currently plans to balance the budget in 2016 or 2017.

Critics have derided the budgetary framework plan as overly complicated, and the government will face an uphill battle to get a three-fifths majority in joint parliamentary sesssion to get it approved as it will need the support of at least some opposition lawmakers.

The main opposition Socialists have criticised the law as nothing more than a public relations stunt.

"The reduction of public deficits does not need a constitutional rule but real political will that is absent today," a party spokesman said Wednesday.

© 2011 AFP

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