French public deficit slightly misses government target in 2016

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin attends a news conference with his Portuguese counterpart Mario Centeno (not pictured) in Lisbon, Portugal March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government cut the public sector deficit last year slightly less than planned, data from the INSEE official statistics agency showed on Friday.

INSEE said in a preliminary estimate that the deficit fell to 3.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2016 from 3.5 percent in 2015, revised from 3.4 percent previously.

The result fell short of the government’s target to cut the deficit to 3.3 percent last year.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin said in a statement that “the conditions are in place” for the deficit to fall in line with an EU limit of 3 percent this year.

However, the government to be formed after France’s two-round presidential election in April and May may revise that commitment.

INSEE also said that gross national debt rose last year to 96.0 percent of economic output from 95.6 percent, in line with the government’s target for 96.1 percent.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta