French finance chief hails Europe's decision to slow down pace of debt reduction

BERLIN – France’s finance minister says the European Union’s decision to grant his country more time to tackle its deficit marks a turning point in the region’s approach to austerity, which is choking off growth.

Pierre Moscovici said Tuesday that cutting budget deficits remains important but the 27-nation bloc must now move toward a more growth-friendly “doctrine of positive deficit reduction.”

He says the decision last week by the EU Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, to grant France more time to get its deficit below the limit of 3 per cent of GDP gives it time to account for the current economic downturn.

Moscovici said, speaking alongside his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble, that deficit reduction is necessary but must be done by “defining the good pace.”