European Commission chief: French tax policy has ‘reached limits of acceptability’

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, November 11, 2013 18:54 EDT
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European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso delivers a speech in Frankfurt am Main, central Germany, on Nov. 5, 2013. [AFP]
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France’s fiscal policy has “reached the limits of acceptability”, with high company taxes weighing on growth, the head of the European Commission told French television late Monday.

Even though France’s proposed budget is “overall satisfactory”, José Manuel Barroso told the LCI network: “Today, the fiscal policy in France has reached the limits of acceptability.

“France is by far the country (in the EU) where companies pay the highest taxes and that’s a problem for growth and employment.”

He urged Paris to “reduce public spending”, while noting that some effort in that direction was included in the proposed budget.

The European Commission on Friday is to give its evaluation of each country in the eurozone in a new measure implemented as part of the effort to stabilise the fragile single currency area.

Rating agency S&P last week downgraded French debt by one notch and expressed concerns about policies to reduce the public deficit and raise competitivity.

France, the eurozone’s second-biggest economy, exited recession with 0.5 percent growth in the second quarter, but is still limping.

The eurozone’s biggest economy, Germany, on the other hand is blazing along, with data last week showing its trade surplus had hit a record high above six percent of GDP.

Barroso said the Commission was planning on Wednesday to “do a deep analysis” of imbalances in the German economy.

“It’s true that the German surplus is above what is normal,” he said.

Eurozone partners, the IMF and the United States worry that Germany’s economy, driven by exports and relatively weak on domestic consumption, is proving a problem to eurozone recovery.

Barroso said: “There are some countries that have lost export markets, for instance France, Britain, Italy. We have to work together so we all become more competitive.”

On the subject of his mandate, Barroso said he was ready to step down at the end of his second term in October 2014.

“Ten years is already a lot. But I want to work to the last minute for Europe,” he said.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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