(Reuters) – The European Commission is likely to reject France’s 2015 budget draft at the end of October and ask for a new one that would better reflect Paris’ deficit reduction obligations under European Union rules, several euro zone officials said.
It would be the first time the EU executive exercises its power to demand changes to a national budget draft under new prerogatives that EU countries granted the Commission in 2013.
The Commission is also likely to step up the disciplinary procedure against France to the final stage before fines while at the same time granting Paris the extra two years it wants to bring down its budget shortfall within EU limits.
The decisions, some of which will be taken by the outgoing Commission before a new team led by Jean-Claude Juncker takes office in November, would give France more time while upholding the credibility of the recently toughened EU budget rules, one euro zone official with insight into the process said.
Such a solution would also help the designated Commissioner in charge of policing budgets, France’s Pierre Moscovici, to prove he will not give preferential treatment to his country, as many centre-right members of the European Parliament suspect.
Moscovici was ordered to submit written replies by Tuesday to detailed questions on how much flexibility he would give to countries that repeatedly breach EU fiscal rules after lawmakers found his answers at a hearing last week evasive.
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