The EU will accept a French budget deficit above the EUs 3 percent ceiling in 2018 “as a one-time exception,” Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger said in an interview published Thursday.
Oettinger told the Funke media group of German newspapers that French President Emmanuel Macron had “lost authority with his budget for 2019” by upping his spending in response to the Yellow Jackets protests, “but he remains a strong supporter of the European Union.”
Brussels reviewed the French budget several weeks ago and wont be revisiting it, Oettinger added. “It crucial now that Macron continues his reform agenda, especially in the labor market, and that France remains on its growth track. Under this condition, we will tolerate a national debt higher than 3 percent as a one-time exception. However, it must not continue beyond 2019.”
Oettinger also told the Funke media group that theres still a chance Britains parliament will vote in favor of Prime Minister Theresa Mays Brexit deal in January and that “there is certainly no majority for a disorderly Brexit or for a new referendum.”
If the U.K. leaves the bloc without a Brexit deal, it will become “a third country like Morocco or Azerbaijan,” Oettinger said. He added that if Britain withholds its divorce payment in 2019, Germany would be left footing the bill “in the mid-three-digit range” of hundreds of millions of euros.
The European commissioner added that the likelihood of Britain remaining in the EU had “somewhat increased ” over the past few months, but “nevertheless, I assume there will be a withdrawal at the end of March.”