Macron Is Only Top French Candidate to Stick to EU Deficit Goals

Emmanuel Macron is the only one of the top three presidential candidates who plans on keeping France’s budget deficit below the 3 percent bar set by a European Union agreement.

The independent candidate would maintain the budget shortfall at 3 percent of gross domestic product this year, and trim it every year to reach 1 percent in 2022, according to a presentation by his campaign staff Friday. Republican Francois Fillon would allow the deficit to increase to 3.7 percent this year and remain above 3 percent in 2018 as he cuts taxes, falling below the symbolic threshold in 2019.

The National Front’s Marine Le Pen hasn’t set out budget figures in her program, though she is promising to increase spending and cut taxes. Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon hasn’t done so either, though he criticized Macron’s budget plans Friday for their “classic free-market” approach.

For Macron, who was French President Francois Hollande’s chief economic adviser in 2012 and 2013 before becoming economy minister in 2014, respecting budget commitments is key to his strategy of gaining the confidence of France’s European partners, notably Germany, before working to alter policy of the region as a whole. The 39-year-old candidate believes France’s current budget trajectory is about right given the economic situation.

“First of all: respect for European commitments,” Macron said Friday in an interview with Les Echos. “There will be neither a give away nor additional rigor.”

Fillon, who has pledged to salvage France’s economy from “bankruptcy,” revised his budget plans this month from much looser earlier projections that saw shortfalls of 4.7 percent in 2017, 4.5% in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019, with a return below the 3 percent threshold only in 2020.

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