PARIS (AP) -- France's prime minister Francois Fillon says the country's deficit was about (euro) 4 billion ($5.09 billion) smaller than expected last year.
While the final 2011 budget figures have not been released, Fillon said Monday the deficit would be about "(euro) 4 billion less than the latest forecast."
The government had expected a deficit of (euro) 95 billion for the year, or about 5.7 percent of gross domestic product.
Fillon was speaking in his New Year's address to reporters in Paris on Monday.
France, Europe's second-largest economy, is struggling to tame its large state debt amid shrinking growth prospects and economic troubles across the continent. Along with some of the other 17 countries that use the euro as their currency, France has flouted rules requiring governments to keep deficits under 3 percent.