April 3 - France's new finance minister is calling for a review of its deficit-reduction deadlines with the European Union. But the request may not go down well in Brussels which has already given France extra time.
Eurozone businesses generally started 2014 pretty well. And new data from the services sector continues that trend. Even struggling France showed a solid performance - that was good news for their reshuffled government - particularly new Finance Minister Michel Sapin. His first job was seek an extension to the EU's deficit reduction target of 3% by next year - it's currently 4.3% for GDP - while committing himself to reform. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH INCOMING FINANCE MINISTER MICHEL SAPIN SAYING: "We must respect our deficit commitments because they are commitments to ourselves, because it is in the deep interest of France, because deep down, if we want a France that is respected, a France that is heard, a France that counts, it must put its public finances in order." The reshuffle included a centrist politician as Prime Minister Michel Valls is often compared with Britain's Tony Blair. And Segolene Royale becomes Ecology and Energy Minister. Francois Hollande is the father of her four children and she's previously run for President herself. Brussels will be watching all appointments carefully. Jan Randolph from IHS believes there's a chance they may get their extension - even though they've already had one and the Germans won't like it. (SOUNDBITE) (English): JAN RANDOLPH, DIRECTOR OF SOVEREIGN RISK, IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT, SAYING: "The Germans will insist on the finances being dealt with as a first priority. Brussels to a certain extent will have a little bit more sympathy with the French position but they will want to see results - they'll want to see material results in terms of structural reforms, loosening the labour market and reducing the tax burden on labour and small businesses." But rewarding France for its failure to tackle its economic woes earlier may not go down well with those who did. And any special treatment could lead to similar requests from others in the euro zone. Latest economic data may be encouraging but there's little appetite in Brussels for anything other than a diet of tough reforms.