France, Austria and Italy have all had their credit ratings downgraded by ratings agency Standard & Poor's.
France and Austria now both hold AA+ ratings, while Italy, which formerly held a BBB+ rating, now finds itself on BBB.
More countries are expected to be downgraded in the next few hours.
Speaking on France 2 television, Francois Baroin said his country's notification was a "half-surprise".
"It is not good news," he said, but insisted the country was taking the right direction.
"The markets had perhaps anticipated the move, which is why their reaction was moderated this afternoon."
The euro fell to a 17-month low on the currency markets amid early reports of the news - the latest in the eurozone crisis - and stock markets across the world also declined.
It is understood the agency will confirm the announcement after markets close in the US. Read More