France misses 2012 deficit target, Spain's shortfall widens -Eurostat
BRUSSELS, April 22
BRUSSELS, April 22 (Reuters) - France missed its deficit goal in 2012 while Spain's shortfall rose by more than expected, EU data showed on Monday, but the bloc's shift away from austerity may ease the pressure on Paris and Madrid.
France's budget deficit was 4.8 percent of economic output last year, the EU's statistics office Eurostat said in the final reading of all 27 countries' public accounts, just above the French target of 4.5 percent.
Spain's budget shortfall was 10.6 percent of gross domestic product, higher than the European Commission's forecast of 10.2 percent.
It was also a much higher reading than the Spanish government's 7 percent figure, because Eurostat includes the impact of bank recapitalisations and support for financial institutions.
The European Commission is considering whether to give France and Spain more time to bring their deficits down towards the EU limit of 3 percent, to help reinvigorate economic growth as the euro zone struggles through its second straight year of recession.
The pace of fiscal tightening in rich economies dominated talks by finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies at the weekend, and officials say they will back off from the spending cuts blamed for deepening Europe's economic downturn.
Overall, the 17-nation euro zone looked much better off at the end 2012. Its combined fiscal deficit was 3.7 percent of gross domestic product, compared to 6.4 percent in 2009.