© Reuters. EU flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels© Reuters. EU flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – France and Spain will cut their budget gaps enough this year and next to meet deadlines set by European Union finance ministers and Italy’s public debt will finally peak this year and start falling from 2018, the European Commission forecast on Thursday.

In a regular forecast for all EU economies, the Commission said the French budget deficit would fall to 2.9 percent of GDP this year from 3.4 percent in 2016 — making the 2017 deadline set by the EU for the gap to shrink below 3 percent.

Spain, which has a deadline for a deficit below 3 percent set for next year, will bring it down to 3.1 percent this year from 4.5 percent in 2016 and then cut it to 2.4 percent in 2018, the Commission forecast.

Italy’s public debt, the second highest in the EU after Greece, will finally start easing from next year after peaking at 132.1 percent of GDP in 2017. In 2018, the debt is to fall to 130.8 percent and in 2019 to 130.0 percent, the Commission said.

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