World Bulletin / News Desk
France on Monday reported a budget deficit equivalent to 2.6 percent of the economy in 2017, below the EU limit of 3.0 percent for the first time in a decade.
The deficit figure, which beat expectations of 2.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), is a fresh sign the eurozone's second-biggest economy is experiencing a rebound under President Emmanuel Macron.
In 2016, the deficit stood at 3.4 percent of GDP.
The 2017 figure was the first to come below the European limit since 2007 -- the year the global financial crisis erupted.
France, long a laggard in Europe, has come under strong pressure to do more to reduce its budget deficit and debt, which are still among the highest in the eurozone.
The decline in the deficit does not mean a reduction France's public debt as the government is still borrowing more than it repays, INSEE said in a statement.
Public debt stood at 2.2 trillion euros, or 97 percent of GDP, at the end of 2017.
Still, France's return below the EU deficit limit is good news for Macron's government, which had made it a goal to reduce the deficit below 3.0 percent.
"We have honoured our engagements," Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France Info radio, as he welcomed the "good news".
"It is proof that the strategy laid out by the president of the Republic on reducing public spending, realigning our public accounts and growth is the right one," he said.