BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's financial watchdog denies favoring France after smaller EU countries complained that Paris was given two extra years to get its finances in order.
EU finance ministers agreed Tuesday to give France until 2017 to rein in its deficit, owing to the weak economic backdrop and Paris's recent fiscal efforts. France already received a two-year extension in 2013.
The EU's top euro official, Valdis Dombrovskis, denied he favored France during his supervision of member countries' budgets.
He said the EU executive takes its role "to ensure a level playing field" seriously despite concerns that budget rules are gradually loosening.
Maltese Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said Monday that some eurozone members believe the EU must "be careful in the assessment" of budgets.