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Eurozone delivers warning to Italy on EU budget rules

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Eurozone delivers warning to Italy on EU budget rules
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire (left) talks with Italian Minister of Economy and Finance Giovanni Tria in a meeting at the EU headquarters October 1, 2018. Photo: John Thys/AFP
16:30 CEST+02:00
Eurozone finance ministers firmly warned Italy on Monday to abide by EU rules on public spending, just days after Rome announced a big spending boost in defiance of Brussels.

But, meeting in Luxembourg, the ministers also vowed not to rush to judgement on the economic plans laid out by Italy's populist government, which have already spooked markets and put the country's already fragile economy under pressure.

"I just want to make very clear that there are rules and the rules are the same for every state because our futures are linked," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters ahead of the regular monthly talks with his eurozone counterparts.

However, "rushing is not the best advice," he said, adding that ministers must move ahead "step by step" before coming down on Italy too strongly.

The fragile state of Italy's economy has reawakened memories of the debt crisis amid dangers that Italy could face punitive measures by its EU partners if it insisted on breaking bloc rules on running excessive deficits and high debt.

"Italy is on everybody's mind," said Mario Centeno, head of the Eurogroup and Portuguese finance minister.

"I know that we all have questions about it and that we are expecting answers."

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