France Poised To Miss Deficit Deadline, Spain Still Struggling

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PARIS
French president Francois Hollande stands after a meeting with Austrian republic president Heinz Fisher, at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 5, 2013. (ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty

France will miss an agreed target to cut its public deficit, the EU said on Tuesday, with Spain's battered economy showing few signs of catching up recovery in the northern eurozone.

The latest European Commission economic forecasts said the French government deficit will hit 4.1 percent this year, 3.8 percent next year and still post a 2015 shortfall at 3.7 percent.

With French output struggling to keep in line with the eurozone's core German economy, French President Francois Hollande faces pressure from Brussels to meet the EU's 3.0-percent-of-GDP ceiling.

The risk otherwise is that Paris could face new EU fines or an unprecedented intervention to France's national budget.

The Commission forecasts left Spanish public finances looking perilously wide of the mark as it strives to emerge from a burst property-and-banking bubble, nine quarters in a row of recession and soaring unemployment.

Madrid has been given until 2016 to reach the 3.0-percent mark, after a eurozone bailout for its banks, but Spain's public deficit will still hit 5.9 percent next year and rise again to 6.6 percent in 2015.

The Commission said weak tax revenues will leave the public finances vulnerable in the absence of a major pick-up to put the economy back on track.

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