France to miss deficit target, President Hollande says

media captionA year since Mr Hollande became president, French households are still feeling the pinch as Hugh Schofield reports

President Francois Hollande has admitted France will miss its target on lowering the budget deficit this year.

France's deficit will "without a doubt" be 3.7% of its output this year, he said, above the 3% he promised to cut it to during the election last year.

The 3% deficit target is also one set by the European Union - but most of the major euro nations are in breach.

The news comes as France's economic progress was criticised by a European Central Bank board member.

"The reform course in France seems to have floundered," Germany's Jens Weidmann said.

"The crisis that we are facing is a crisis of confidence, and this confidence cannot be gained if we postpone the tackling of the root causes of the crisis," Mr Weidmann said, referring to France, Italy and Cyprus as countries that still face tough financial situations.

Greece, Ireland and Portugal have been effectively shut out of borrowing long term on international financial markets, which forced them to seek help from European partners and the International Monetary Fund.

They all adopted austerity policies to cut public spending, but France has bucked the trend, raising taxes instead to protect its social model.

During the election last year, Mr Hollande vowed to bring the deficit to 3% from its current 4.5% and had insisted this was possible until now admitting defeat.

But he defended his record, saying that the deficit has come down from more than 5% in 2011.

"In two years, we have performed a structural recovery," the president said on Tuesday, that "is as unprecedented as it is significant".

"Addressing our accounts is a financial obligation... but it is also an obligation of sovereignty because France must never be in difficulty in the markets."

The ECB's other German board member, Joerg Asmussen, last month urged France to take "concrete and measurable" steps to bring down its budget deficit.

The number of jobless in France has now risen past 3 million.

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