Having bitched and moaned at the utter temerity of the Italians to suggest a growth budget that busts Brussels' mandated deficit limits, the French are about to make Milan's defiance look like child's play.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the measures announced on Monday by President Emmanuel Macron to appease so-called Yellow Vests protesters will “necessarily” have an impact on the country’s deficit.
“The measures will have consequences in terms of spending and that necessarily implies consequences in terms of deficit and we know it will have an impact on the 2019 deficit.”
Philippe said the government will take measures to avoid accelerating public spending, but for now, it's not looking good.
Specifically, as the EU pressures Italy to retreat from a deficit of 2.4% of GDP next year, the promises Macron unveiled Monday night, from a 100-euro ($114) a month hike in the minimum wage to abolishing a tax on pensions, are expected to cost around EUR 10 billion (or 0.5ppt of GDP), which, as French Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin indicated, will send the 2019 budget to a deficit at 3.4% of GDP.
And that budget-busting populist bailout for Macron has sent French credit risk soaring to its highest since May 2017
Perhaps most notably, as opposed to disgust projected from Brussels when Italy pitched their budget, the European Commission said it will assess the impact of French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed increase in spending in the spring in its regular process of assessing EU governments’ budgets.
“We have a well-established process in place to monitor and assess member states’ economic situations and fiscal policies. Our position on France is well known and the opinion on the French draft budgetary plan was published recently,” commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas says.
“The fiscal impact of the final budget that emerges from the parliamentary process will be assessed in spring when we publish our economic forecasts,” Schinas tells reporters.
As always, it's one rule for the core, and one for the periphery.
As Bloomberg reports, while investors are starting to look more closely at French spending, Italy has periodically complained that Paris gets special treatment when the EU Commission is assessing budgets.
“Macron’s spending will encourage Salvini and Di Maio,” said Giovanni Orsina, head of the School of Government at Rome’s Luiss-Guido Carli University.
“Macron was supposed to be the spearhead of pro-European forces, if he himself is forced to challenge EU rules, Salvini and Di Maio will jump on that to push their contention that those rules are wrong.”