PARIS (AFP) – France’s public debt has topped the symbolic level of 2.0 trillion euros for the first time, according to official data Tuesday, putting Paris on a fresh collision course with the European Union.
The total national debt amounted to 2.023 trillion euros ($2.57 trillion) in the second quarter of the year, which represents 95.1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), said national statistics agency INSEE. European Union rules say that debt must not exceed 60 per cent of GDP, or befalling significantly towards this ratio.
In the first quarter of the year, the debt stood at 1.995 trillion euros, or 94.0 per cent of GDP, INSEE said. France is already at loggerheads with the EU over its budget deficit, which is supposed to be kept under three per cent of GDP.
Paris promised to bring the deficit under three per cent by next year but, in a stunning about turn, announced earlier this month that it was pushing back this target until 2017.
The deficit this year is forecast to be 4.4 per cent of GDP, dropping only fractionally to 4.3 per cent next year.