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EU ministers give France two extra years to cut budget deficit

Belga / Siska Gremmelprez / AFP | The European Commission building in Brussels

European Union finance ministers approved on Tuesday a two-year extension, until 2017, for France to bring its budget deficit below the EU ceiling of 3 percent of GDP, an EU official said.

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"The two-year extension in the excessive deficit procedure for France is approved," the official said.

This is the third extension of the deficit deadline for France since 2009, a fact that has angered many smaller EU countries who feel heavyweights like France are being let off the hook.

On Friday, the Commission's former economy chief Olli Rehn told the Financial Times that failure to punish France was "eroding the credibility of eurozone [rules]".

France announced in October that its budget deficit for 2015 would hit 4.3 percent of annual economic output, far above the 3 percent it had pledged to meet in 2015.

The move had led to expectations that France could become the first eurozone country to be fined for breaching deficit rules.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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