Brussels scrutinises 2018 budget plans
The EU Commission published its official assessment of the member states' budget plans on Wednesday. Only eleven are for the most part in compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, according to the report. Italy in particular came in for sharp criticism due to its mountain of debt, while France was criticised for significantly deviating from its budget balancing path. Commentators from both countries take the warnings to heart.
French governments all too free-handed
France's failure to get its public finances in order is primarily a result of its tendency to overspend, Les Echos concludes:
“What left and right-wing governments alike are all too good at is raising taxes. They are consumed with the desire to lower them once more. But what neither has ever achieved is to curb their spending. Unlike in its neighbouring countries in France public spending increases every time there's a recession without ever going back to a normal level once the downturn is over. It's an illusion to hope for a balanced budget under such circumstances. And the new president is sticking to the same course as his predecessors at present.”
Italy facing threat of stringent regime in EU
With its criticism Brussels is indirectly interfering in the Italian election campaign, internal affairs editor Stefano Folli writes in La Repubblica:
“The government's glossy rhetoric about progress being made on the budget and there being no problems with the EU has been refuted. Clearly this is not true. Brussels appears - mainly for political reasons - to have decided to lift the veil. ... But not only that, the EU's statement is an indication of which direction the Union will take in the event of Angela Merkel leaving office and the political axis in Germany shifting to the right. Merkel was adept at restraining the hardliners on budget discipline to a certain extent. What will happen tomorrow no one knows, but after yesterday's events we can start to imagine what lies in store for us.”