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PM’s pledge as MPs back €50bn cuts

Manuel Valls repeats promise to Brussels on France’s public deficit after winning vital vote on spending cuts

29 April 2014

FRENCH Prime Minister Manuel Valls today insisted that France intended to keep its promise to Brussels to bring its public deficit down to 3% of GDP by 2015.

Repeating a government pledge made last week, Mr Valls told France Inter radio: "That is the target and we must reach it."

He made the comment less than 24 hours after MPs backed a €50bn package of cuts over the next three years, repeating a government promise made last week.

But it was a close-run thing. At the end of a series of debates, MPs voted through the government’s controversial programme of economic reforms by 265 votes to 232.

Of the 67 abstentions that squeezed the vote, 41 came from within the ruling Socialist party.

After the vote, Mr Valls thanked MPs for their support of what he described as a “well-balanced” plan. “It is important,” he said. “It is a founding act for the next five years.”

He had earlier warned dissenters in Socialist Party ranks that the vote “determines both the legitimacy of the French government and its ability to govern but most importantly the credibility of France”.

Mr Valls, who replaced former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault after the local elections disaster, had also tried to placate rebels to the left of his party on Monday.

He made a series of concessions - including one that will ensure five million pensioners who are living on less than €1,200 a month are no longer affected by the welfare freeze.

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