Government refuses to shift in budget battle with EC

ROME – The Italian government has chosen to dig its heels in over the European Commission’s concerns about the proposed 2019 budget, sources report.

 On Oct. 23, the European Commission rejected Italy’s proposed budget, citing concerns over higher spending plans that will increase the deficit, rather than reduce it. In a press conference the following day, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte insisted that 2.4 percent of GDP would be the upper limit for the deficit (, but the EC has requested that this figure be lowered.

 However, late on Tuesday evening, Economy Minister Giovanni Tria sent the EC a revised version of the budget and left the crucial 2.4 percent deficit figure unchanged. In an accompanying letter, Tria wrote that, were the target of 1.5 percent growth not achieved in 2019, a “safeguard cushion” would kick in.

 The Vice-President of the EC Andrus Ansip was highly critical of Italy’s most recent rejection of the Commission’s demands, saying, “When you are part of the Eurozone family, you need to respect the rules that we have given ourselves.” Ansup also questioned the economic policy being pursued by Conte’s government. “To get into debt with taxpayers’ money is not a good idea,” he continued. “There’s an intelligent government in Italy and I hope they’ll be able to find good solutions for the EU and the Italian people.”