Eichel insists Germany will lower deficit

The EU's Stability and Growth Pact received some much needed support with Germany's Finance Minister Hans Eichel on Tuesday insisting that Germany would ensure its budget deficit next year came in below 3pc of GDP.

He also said he would "stick to plans" to cut taxes further in 2004. In a speech in Parliament presenting the draft law on the 2002 supplementary budget and the proposed 2003 budget, Eichel said "despite the difficult situation" in the economy, Germany remains committed to its goal