Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici created news when he revealed exclusively to the AAPA on Feb.18 that the government was moving away from its earlier pledge to bring its budget deficit down to 3% of gross domestic product this year, arguing that Europe’s recession had created an “exceptional” situation requiring less austerity.


The minister’s comments were picked up widely by French media, giving our association some nice publicity.


The one-hour on-the-record meeting over breakfast in the ministry’s dining room, with over twenty of us attending, covered a wide range of other key topics: how the G20 at just-ended meeting in Moscow had rejected competitive devaluations; recessionary conditions in Europe; continuing close relations and consultations with the Obama Administration; progress in reining in France’s structural deficit; his support for a leftist government in Italy; and for the success of the so-called “Robin Hood” tax on international financial transactions now supported by eleven EU members.


Many attending filed articles, and here is a selected, thumbnail rundown of what was published, as the word circulated quickly that the news broke in a meeting with the Anglo-American Press Association of Paris.


+ From The New York Times by Committee Member Steven Erlanger: Quoting Moscovici: “I don’t think our credibility will be damaged if something exceptional intervenes… If we have a deeper recession, we’ll have an even tougher time meeting our targets. We must not add austerity to the risk of recession.”


+ From Reuters by Committee Member Catherine Bremer: “France will await European Commission growth forecasts this week before deciding on whether to adjust its 2013 fiscal plans, but any change should not affect its credibility, its finance minister said on Monday. ‘I don’t think our credibility will be damaged if something exceptional intervenes,’ Pierre Moscovici had a breakfast meeting with foreign media.”


+ From Bloomberg by Members Mark Deen and Gregory Viscusi: “The government is also being careful on any plan to re-introduce a 75% tax on earnings over 1 million euros ($1.34 million) after it was struck down by courts.’The 75 percent tax is an important reform…an exceptional tax for exceptional times…I’d like to do a 75 percent, but if we can’t we won’t do it. I don’t want another sanction,’ the minister said.”


+ From Dow Jones by Vice President David Pearson: “In Monday’s meeting with the Anglo-American Press Association in Paris, Mr. Moscovici rejected the idea that the state may end up taking a stake in the capital of troubled car maker PSA Peugeot Citroen. The state ‘isn’t going to make automobiles,’ he said, adding that ‘we must avoid as much as possible – now and in the foreseeable future – that the state becomes a shareholder.”


As our meeting was ending, Mr. Moscovici told us that he would like to make our meeting a regular event.


—Axel Krause