The German EU commissioner Günther Oettinger (CDU) has demanded via FOCUS interview the initiation of an excessive deficit procedure against France because of its planned higher deficit for 2019. At the same time, the EU Commission has been encouraging the Italian government to make substantial short-term concessions to its new spending plans through robust talks.
Sven Giegold, the economic and financial policy spokesperson for the Greens/EFA parliamentary group in the European Parliament, says:
“Günther Oettinger’s announcement in a pre-Christmas interview is a premature showmanship. The prerequisites for a deficit procedure have not yet been met. The EU Commission is currently conducting talks with France on compliance with the European rules. France must ensure that the structural budget deficit is not increased. A short-term deviation in budget deficits is permissible within the framework of the preventive arm of the stability pact. If, on the other hand, the structural budget deficit worsens substantially, the same applies to France as it did recently to Italy: sanctions can be imposed directly for breaching the debt rules. The EU Commission must not expose itself to the accusation of treating France differently from Italy here.
Oettinger is acting uncooperatively and damagingly, condemning France even before the end of the talks. Just before Christmas, Oettinger sets fire to Franco-German friendship. Those who demand compliance with European rules should adhere to the European rules themselves. The EU Commission does not need a German disciplinarian.
Of course the same applies to France as to Italy: No country is above European law, no matter how big it is. France must abide by the European rules. In this way, France can also finance socially meaningful additional expenditures solidly, for example through higher taxes for well off people. The Commission must continue to exert pressure here and must not rule out any sanctions.”