France granted 2-year deficit extension

<p>The EU has granted France a two-year extension to bring its budget deficit below three per cent GDP.</p>

France has been given a two-year budget deficit extension by European Union (EU) finance ministers.

The country needs to bring its budget deficit below three per cent of GDP as part of the agreement laid out by the EU. It is France's third extension since 2009 and will need a lot of work to reduce the deficit from its current position of 4.1 per cent of GDP. France has been struggling with a high unemployment rate and this latest extension will provide more time to resolve the issue.

A statement from EU finance ministers read: "The Council called on France to fully implement measures already adopted for 2015. It called for an additional fiscal effort by the end of April 2015, involving additional structural measures equivalent to 0.2 per cent of GDP

"The Council found that extending the deadline for correcting the deficit was justified by the fiscal effort made by France since 2013, and by the current weak economic conditions and other factors."

Previous attempts

France has previously outlined a number of strategies to tackle its deficit problem. In October 2014, the country's finance minister Michel Sapin outlined a plan to reduce the budget deficit by €3.6-3.7 billion (£2.84 billion) in the next year. However, the latest announcement from the EU highlights that France has failed to meet this target.

Mr Sapin also unveiled plans to reduce France's budget deficit to below three per cent of GDP by 2017, two years later than the original promise of 2015. The EU has now laid out new targets for France to meet.

The Council said that the country must reduce its deficit to 4.0 per cent of GDP for 2015, then to 3.4 per cent for 2016 and finally 2.8 per cent for 2017.

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