Germany achieves balanced budget, a key to Merkel's platform, a year ahead of plan

BERLIN – Germany says that in 2014 it achieved its first balanced budget since 1969, a year earlier than planned, thanks to low interest rates, higher tax revenue and other factors.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that historically low interest rates meant that Germany paid less on previous credit, and overall spending was a billion euros less than budgeted, at 295.5 billion euros ($348.8 billion).

Meantime, tax revenues were 2.6 billion euros higher than budgeted. In addition, a December court ruling forced utility companies to pay the government 2.3 billion euros as part of a tax on the fuel used to produce nuclear power.

Germany had previously planned on new net borrowing of 6.5 billion euros in 2014 and a balanced budget in 2015.