The French budget for 2019 will be assessed by the European Commission in the second quarter of next year when it releases new economic forecasts, a spokesman for the EU executive said on December 11.
He was responding to a question about the Commission’s view of new spending increases announced by French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this week that are likely to increase France’s budget deficit, possibly in violation of EU fiscal rules.
“We have a well-established process to monitor and assess member states’ economic situation and fiscal policies,” spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a news conference.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Schinas said the Commission had already published an opinion in November on the French draft 2019 budget in its earlier version, without the spending announced by Macron, and would not return to the subject until May next year.
In the November document, the EU executive said the French budgetary plan was “at risk of non-compliance” with EU rules because instead of improving the structural deficit by 0.6% of gross domestic product, as required, Paris had committed to a 0.2% structural improvement.
Macron, in concessions to anti-government protesters, announced on December 10 wage hikes for the poorest workers and a tax cut for most pensioners. This leaves his government scrambling to come up with extra budget savings or risk also blowing through the EU’s 3% of GDP limit on headline deficit.