EU Commission could consider giving France more time on deficit

The European Commission is considering giving France more time to bring its budget deficit below EU limits and will likely decide in May, the EU's top economic official said on Friday.

"In France, the recovery is now expected to be delayed, which has repercussions on public finances and we now expect a deficit of 3.7 percent of GDP this year," EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told a briefing.

Rehn said if the Commission's studies show France has made a big enough effort on its structural deficit, it would get until 2014 to meet the 3 percent target, rather than this year. "We shall revisit this matter in May," Rehn said.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott and Jan Strupczewski; editing by Rex Merrifield)