Italy insists it's 'on track' to avoid EU budget fines

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected] • 2 Jul, 2019 Updated Tue 2 Jul 2019 13:21 CEST
Italy insists it's 'on track' to avoid EU budget fines

After spending less money than expected so far in 2019, Italy's government says it is set to avoid threatened EU disciplinary procedures over its controversial budget and high levels of public debt.


The public deficit is "perfectly on track" to reach 2.04 percent of gross domestic product in 2019, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.

"We're on track with the forecasts that we've made," Conte told journalists in Brussels.

Italy is expecting some 6.24 billion euros of additional revenue this year, the government has calculated.

READ ALSO: Italy's budget battle with Brussels: What you need to know

A huge chunk of money that had been earmarked for early retirement payments and a citizens' income for the less well-off has been frozen, due to lower than expected demand.

Meanwhile expenditure is set to rise only by an extra 130 million euros, meaning the overall deficit for this year would be around 7.6 billion euros lower than anticipated, the cabinet said in a statement late Monday.

"The best thing that we tell Italian citizens is that we're not cutting social or other spending, these are additional receipts," Conte said.

"We made prudent estimates for some elements... this is an update to our accounts."

On June 20, Conte had already suggested that Rome would achieve a deficit ratio of 2.1 percent this year, while the EU Commission is pencilling in a figure of 2.5 percent for the bloc's fourth-largest economy..

Italian finance minister Giovanni Tria said the government regarded its budget as "perfectly in line with the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact," under which EU members must consistently reduce their deficits and target a balanced budget in the long term.

At the start of June, Brussels formally put Italy on notice about its deteriorating deficit and snowballing debt and opened an excessive deficit procedure which could result in an unprecedented fine of more than 3.0 billion euros for the country.

The European Commission in October rejected the big-spending budget submitted for approval by the Italian coalition government of the far-right League and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.





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