French Prime Minister vows to cut budget deficit to below 3%

French Prime Minister vows to cut budget deficit to below 3%

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has vowed to bring the country's budget deficit under the European Union limit of 3% this year in his first major speech on the government's economic and social priorities.

Addressing MPs, Mr Philippe announced expenses cuts and pledged not to raise taxes. He said France's debt has reached "an unbearable level", putting the country "at the mercy of financial markets".

Mr Philippe faced a confidence vote at the National Assembly, France's lower house of parliament, later on Tuesday. He should easily win it because President Emmanuel Macron's party has a wide majority after legislative elections last month.

"The truth is that when our German neighbours raise 100 euro in taxes and spend 98, we are raising 117 euro and are spending 125. Who can think this situation is sustainable?" he said.

Mr Philippe pledged to stop increasing the number of state employees, to focus the French state on its main priorities and to stop spending money on policies that do not deliver efficient results.

Last week a report by the country's national audit office showed that the budget deficit could reach 3.2%, above the limit for the 10th consecutive year in 2017, if no measures were taken.

AP

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