PARIS Whatever the outcome of presidential elections next year, a new French government will have to cut the public deficit below the 3 percent limit as promised, Economics Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Wednesday.
The warning comes a day after the Socialist government outlined the 2017 budget and after leading center-right candidates vying for their party's nomination said they expect to breach the EU-mandated 3 percent.
"Whether the left or the right gets to power, France will have to respect the 3 percent," Moscovici told Le Figaro newspaper in an interview.
"There will be no new delay, no infringement, no exception for France," he said. France has delayed bringing its deficit below 3 percent several times under both Socialist and center-right governments in recent years.
Conservative candidates have all pledged to put France's house in order and eventually return to a budget surplus.
But they say they expect to find a trail of unbudgeted tax cuts and spending left by the Socialists that will be impossible to reverse immediately.
They also argue the spending cuts they plan to make will have to go hand in hand with lower taxes to kick-start a sluggish economy weighed down by one of the highest tax burdens in the euro zone.
Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Tuesday he planned to bring the deficit to 2.7 percent as promised. The 2017 budget is based on a growth forecast of 1.5 percent, higher than the average forecast of economists.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Ralph Boulton)