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France’s Moscovici backs spending cuts, not tax hikes

When is a socialist not a socialist? Perhaps when he advocates cutting public spending rather than raising taxes, and says that thriving businesses are the key to boosting growth and creating jobs.

According to Pierre Moscovici, the finance minister in France's socialist government, the country's citizens pay "just enough" taxes, meaning the country's stubbornly high deficit must be tackled by other means.

(Read more: France in 2025: will la vie be en rose?)

On Wednesday, France once again downgraded its public deficit and growth forecasts, admitting it would need until 2015 to bring its deficit under 3 percent of GDP (gross domestic product), as required by the European Commission.

"The time has come for the effort to rely on public expenditure, rather than taxes," Moscovici told CNBC in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

"We are in France with a very strong fiscal pressure, and I am not ashamed of that, because we also have a strong social model and welfare state and also strong local authorities. But I think there comes a time when it is not reasonable to increase the weight of taxation on an economy," he said.

(Read more: Why the French may say 'non' to 'Made in France')

France is under pressure from Brussels to prove it can balance its books, and has been ordered to implement "crucial" spending cuts, simplify its tax system, and introduce pension reforms.

(Learn more: France's pension problem)

The government is due to prevent final pension reform plans at a cabinet meeting next Wednesday, and in October, President Francois Hollande will publish his 2014 budget, which will focus on curbing spending.

In the meantime, Moscovici seems keen to emphasize his pro-business, reformist credentials.

"I am a good listener for what is the problem of business in France, because I think strong business, firms creates growth and unemployment," he told CNBC.

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato

Contact Europe: Economy

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