Government censured for missing deficit target

Failed to hit Brussels-set target to cut Britain's budget deficit

Nelson's Column

David Cameron and George Osborne have been criticised by the European Union for missing a Brussels-set target to cut Britain's budget deficit.

Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici called on the Government to take action to curb its "excessive deficit" below 3% of GDP by 2016-17, after missing the original target to do so by 2014-2015.

Under the EU stability and growth pact, countries which use the euro can be subject to central sanctions for missing similar targets.

But as the UK is not in the eurozone, the Prime Minister and Chancellor will not have to worry about dealing with any binding sanctions.

Mr Moscovici instead proposed "non-effective action" alongside the new 2016-2017 deadline.

Britain's budget deficit currently stands at 5% of GDP, at around £87 billion, and is forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility to fall to 2% of GDP by 2016/17, which would meet the new target.

In a statement, Mr Moscovici said: "The United Kingdom did not correct its excessive deficit by the deadline set by the Council recommendation, which is an old one since 2009 and the supposed deadline was financial year 2014-15.

"We therefore propose a Council decision establishing non-effective action and setting a new deadline of financial year 2016-17 to bring the deficit below 3% of GDP.

"I don't need to recall that Great Britain is not a member of the eurozone."

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