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Spain backs France decision to miss deficit target to spend on security

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 Spain backs France decision to miss deficit target to spend on security
Photo: AFP
17:10 CET+01:00
Spain on Tuesday backed France's decision to let EU deficit obligations slide in order to step up spending on security in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

"We are living in a special time and in this special time you have to reflect on what are your approaches to the budget,"  Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told reporters in the northern city of Logrono when asked about France's plans.

The minister recalled that the European Commission has already said that EU budget deficit rules can be stretched for governments which spend money on refugees.

Earlier on Tuesday French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told France Inter radio that with Paris planning to hire an additional 8,500 law enforcement officers, France's EU-agreed spending limits "will certainly be exceeded".

The EU's stability pact obliges member states to keep their public deficits under 3.0 percent of gross domestic product.   

Eurozone states with excessive deficits are subject to fines if they are not making substantial efforts to bring them back down.

France, which hasn't been able to bring its public deficit back under the three percent limit since the global financial crisis struck in 2008, had agreed with the EU to reduce the deficit to 3.8 percent of GDP this year, 3.3 percent in 2016 and 2.7 percent in 2017.

The Spanish government in October approved its budget for 2016 without addressing calls from the European Commission to revise the plan to ensure the country meets its deficit target.

The Commission sees Spain's budget shortfall coming in at 3.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2016 -- leaving the eurozone's fourth-largest economy in breach of the bloc's 3.0 percent deficit ceiling for a ninth
straight year.

The Spanish government forecasts the deficit will come in at 4.2 percent this year and drop to 2.8 percent next year.

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