Italy PM says proud of budget, seeks European Union dialogue 'without prejudice'

REUTERS  Johannes P. Christo

Now, the onus is on Brussels over whether to accept or reject the new spending proposals.

Official policy is that the government backs remaining in the European Union, but both Salvini and Di Maio are avowed eurosceptics, and Salvini is believed to privately back an exit from the single currency.

"I am extremely happy, we are keeping our promises, slowly but bravely. We are not raising taxes of any kind for 2019", Salvini said during a press conference Monday evening.

In a reaction on Wednesday, Italian deputy prime minister Salvini said that Italy will not change its budget. The vote delivered an inconclusive result and the parties formed a coalition, one that has since caused consternation in Brussels for its euroskeptic rhetoric and big spending plans.

There is one mitigating factor according to Goldman: "it could be argued that France's deviations from the structural adjustment path reflect the current government's aim to boost potential growth, in particular through an increase in capital stock and labour participation, it is more hard to make the same case for Italy, where the reforms to the pension system imply a deterioration in the medium-term sustainability of public finances". That is still not the final position of the European Commission, he later clarified via Twitter. "We have full confidence that the European Commission will handle the question in the way imposed by the treaties", Brinkhaus told reporters in Berlin.

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European Commissioner Günther Oettinger denied a report in Der Spiegel that his fellow Commissioner Pierre Moscovici had sent a letter to Rome which should arrive on Thursday or Friday, rejecting the budget. It has legal powers to ask Italy to revise its draft budget.

Brussels is concerned that Italy's budget will increase the country's deficit.

This budget concern the euro zone as the Italian debt, at 131% of its GDP, after Greece the debt ratio is the highest among the 19 countries that have adopted the single currency. The budget proposes increasing both Italy's overall government debt and its deficit in the short run, pushing the deficit as high as 2.4% of GDP over the coming years.

Earlier, Spiegel magazine reported that the Commission has already made a decision to reject the budget plan, citing comments from Oettinger. "I don't think it will happen, but the result of such erroneous speculation can be very bad".

This contravenes European Union regulations that call on Italy and other highly indebted countries to steadily narrow the shortfall toward zero.

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