The weak state of the French economy and uncertain outlook for budget targets was in focus on Wednesday after official data confirmed that the country is in recession. Weak growth and public finances in France are of acute concern to the European Commission and to Germany which is the main powerhouse in the Euro zone.
The figures are also watched closely on nervous financial markets.
The latest figures from the national statistics institute INSEE showed that the economy contracted by 0.2% in the first quarter. This followed shrinkage of the same amount in the last quarter of last year, meaning that France fell back into recession as defined by two quarters running of contraction in output.
INSEE warned that if output is flat in each of the last three quarters of this year, France would post a recession of 0.3% for the year.
INSEE had anticipated that the economy was set be remain sluggish throughout 2013, and gave its own assessment that for the whole year it would shrink by 0.1%.
Weak growth in an economy usually means falling tax receipts, and the right-wing opposition has launched an offensive against the Socialist government this week, arguing that tax receipts are lower, and the outlook for the public deficit higher, than the government says.
In March, President Francois Hollande acknowledged that France would not achieve its initial target of reducing the deficit to the European Union ceiling of 3% of output in 2013, and said the target was now 3.7%.