Fanciful France

By Global Tax Weekly

Since it’s still before breakfast (for me, that is) I will choose to believe something impossible, which is that the French Government is going to cut its expenses and reduce taxes. The Court of Auditors, having had a very substantial breakfast, doesn’t believe the Government, however, and in the past the Court has consistently been more accurate than the Finance Ministry. It’s impossible to discern where the President is standing in this: he began from a very far-Left position more or less indistinguishable from Communism, but has been rocked by adverse election results and the lowest approval rating of any President, ever. “I hear you,” he says, but presumably only because he has no choice. The choices are going to be made at the Matignon, whence the Prime Minister will be leaning on the Finance Minister, Michel Sapin, to come up with the goods, being a package which will satisfy both the electorate and the EU Commission – and that’s where the impossibility comes in. The Auditors say that the Government will miss its 3.8 percent deficit target this year, which is already far higher than what the Commission had been promised, and could lead the country into an “excessive deficit procedure” in which the Troika or some other extra-national task force imposes tighter fiscal discipline on a miscreant country. But such measures would cause riots in France, or worse, and would surely lead to a summary end to Francois Hollande’s tenure of the Elysee. Therefore the Commission will do what it did after Maastricht, when it was Germany that broke the fiscal rules, and bend them, especially if arch-fixer Jean-Claude Juncker has been installed as President, because France is too big to be crossed. Well, here comes my breakfast, so I will mark up France’s bonus point while I still have belief and before I tuck into that scrumptious croissant au chocolat.

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