EU calls for concrete, substantial changes to Italy budget

EU welcomed the recent change of tone from Rome, but stressed it is not enough

Photo: EPA Valdis Dombrovskis, vice president of the EU Commission for the Euro and Social Dialogue

The European Commission welcomed on Monday a change of tone from Italy in its dispute with the bloc over its excessively expansionary 2019 budget, but insisted on concrete, substantial changes before halting disciplinary action.

“It is positive that the tone of discussion has changed,” European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said on entering a meeting of euro zone finance ministers where Italy’s budget will be one of those discussed.  "It is not a question of just changing the tone of the discussion though, it is also about having a substantial correction".

“So now I would say the ball is on Italy’s side whether Italy comes with substantial adjustments to the 2019 plan,” Dombrovskis added.

The Commission has rejected Rome's budget plan for 2019, which sees Italy running a deficit of 2.4% of GDP next year, saying it breaks EU rules. Premier Giuseppe Conte's executive has said an expansive budget is needed to finance key pledges and boost sluggish growth.

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