- Italy Offers 2.04% Budget Deficit Target in EU Peace Gesture
by John Follain, https://www.bloomberg.com/
* European Commission had rejected budget with 2.4% deficit
* Premier Conte met EU commission chief Juncker in Brussels
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte proposed to cut the deficit target to 2.04 percent of output for next year in a significant concession to the European Commission.
Conte told reporters after meeting commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels that technical analyses had allowed the government to recover resources and lower the 2019 deficit from an initial 2.4 percent. The original number was rejected for being in breach of European Union rules.
“We are not betraying the trust of Italians and we respect the commitments made with the measures which have the most impact,” such as a lower retirement age and a citizen’s income for the poor, Conte said.
The offer now places the ball in the commission’s court, and follows a long tussle between Conte and Finance Minister Giovanni Tria on one side, and on the other the two euroskeptic deputy premiers: Matteo Salvini of the anti-migration League and Luigi Di Maio of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. Tria was scheduled to be in Brussels Thursday to guide the remaining phases of the talks on the new budget, his spokeswoman said.
Officials cautioned that there is more work to be done to satisfy EU regulations. Newspaper La Stampa cited an EU “source” as saying that there is “still a gap to bridge, hopefully we can do it with the work that will continue in the coming days.” Salvini and Di Maio had insisted that their landmark election pledges should not be diluted or delayed.