BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European economics commissioner said on Wednesday he was confident France can bring its deficit below 3 percent of output this year but insisted Paris should also keep under control its structural gap, which is linked more closely to public debt.
Pierre Moscovici said that bringing the French nominal deficit in 2017 below the European Union's 3 percent ceiling from 3.4 percent last year was "at hand" and he showed confidence in the government's respect of its commitments to do so.
But he also noted that the French authorities should be careful to abide by EU rules on the structural deficit, which does not include one-off measures. "This is an issue the Commission will pay close attention to," Moscovici told a news conference.
The structural deficit is a gauge also used to check the public debt which in France is expected to grow from 96 percent of the output in 2016 to 96.4 percent this year and 96.7 percent in 2018, according to commission's economic forecasts released in May.
EU rules say that public debt should not exceed 60 percent of the gross domestic product and if it does, it should go down.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel)