Italy needs more time to cut debt, Conte says

The EU should give Italy more time to cut debt and support a plan to reinvigorate investment, PM Giuseppe Conte said after talks with the Commission's President-designate Ursula von der Leyen. He visited Brussels on Wednesday, a day after his new government won the second of two confidence votes in the upper house of parliament and can start to work.

“We do not have any time to waste in the EU,” he said ahead of the talks with EU leaders. Conte pointed out that he will work to achieve three fundamental objectives for Italy and for the interests of the Italian people: to modify the Stability Pact to favour growth, to go beyond the Dublin Regulation (on managing migrants) and to have an extraordinary regime of interventions that help growth and the development of southern Italy.

“Our target is to reduce the debt,” Conte told reporters. “But we want to do it through economic growth and investments,” he said, adding that Italy would need “some time” to reach fiscal targets and invest in the green economy, digitalisation and the revival of its poorer southern regions.

Italian sources told Reuters the government was planning a 2020 budget deficit of 2.3% of output, above the current goal of 2.1%, and close to the 2.4% level that almost triggered an EU disciplinary procedure over this year's budget.

Conte repeated calls for a revision of EU rules on asylum seekers, so that some migrants landing on Italian shores after crossing the Mediterranean would be transferred to other countries.

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