BRUSSELS (Reuters) - France’s spending to boost security after the Paris attacks should get special treatment under EU budget deficit rules, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday.
French President Francois Hollande on Monday pledged to spare no expense to reinforce and equip the country’s security and law enforcement to fight terrorism, even though that would take the budget deficit beyond European Union limits.
“We are facing serious terrorist acts. France, as other countries, has to have at its disposal supplementary means. I think that these supplementary means should not be treated as ordinary expenses in the Stability Pact (EU budget rules),” Juncker told a conference in Brussels.
EU rules foresee that extraordinary costs may be exceptionally exempt from EU fiscal rules, which set a limit on deficits at 3 percent of GDP and require governments to cut structural deficits by half a point of GDP a year until they reach balance.
Juncker underlined that the supplementary costs for which a budget leeway should be granted are meant “to ensure citizens’ security” and are not to fight a war, he told the conference.
On Tuesday, the EU economic commissioner Pierre Moscovici said that after the Paris attacks security was an absolute priority. “We will reevaluate all possible budgetary expenses of these new developments,” he told a news conference.
The French draft budget for 2016 was considered “broadly compliant” with EU fiscal rules, although the EU executive warned France against risks of missing the agreed targets in a report prepared before the Paris attacks.
Euro zone finance ministers will gather in Brussels on Nov. 23 for an extraordinary meeting dedicated to assess the draft budgets of the 19 countries sharing the euro.
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Ralph Boulton