Brussels began on Thursday an arm of iron, with the populist coalition in power in Italy. This last requires a formal “clarification” on its budget 2019, which comes out largely of nails in europe. The other countries of the euro area, subject to the same budgetary rules, will be watching closely the trade between Rome and the Commission, challenged by the Italian government, formed the League (far-right) and of the Movement 5 stars (M5S, antisystème). The commissioner for economic Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, will on Thursday hand delivered to the Italian Finance minister, Giovanni Tria, a letter of clarification, according to the eu executive.
The two leaders then give a joint press conference in Rome in the late afternoon. “We knew that this budget has been designed to meet the demands of Italian citizens, long ignored, was not consistent with the expectations of the european Commission. We expected, therefore, with observations and remarks, which are about to happen and which we are ready to respond, ” said the president of the Italian Council, Giuseppe Conte, on Facebook.
Referring to an exchange, “normal” between the Commission and the member States, he stressed that Italy would not be the only one to receive a letter, referring to ” probably Spain, France, Portugal “. This should also be the case of Belgium. “This may not be a concern for us,” because this budget is ” well-thought-out, well-constructed and well-realized “, he said, adding : “the dialogue we are not afraid of provided that it is constructive and useful, and without prejudice.” The day before, he had warned that there was no scope to change the budget.
Giuseppe Conte, who participated Thursday at the european summit in Brussels has multiplied its bilateral meetings. Angela Merkel was very interested in our structural reforms, ” he said. “I expressed the concerns of the Low Countries “, for his part, tweeted the Dutch Prime minister Mark Rutte after his meeting with the Italian, expressing his ” full support to the Commission “. As all the countries of the euro area, Italy has sent Monday its draft budget 2019 to the eu executive. The budget path presented, with a public deficit of 2.4% of gross domestic product (GDP), is far from the 0.8 per cent promised by the previous government of the centre-left.
Rome wants to give a boost to growth via a higher demand, and more investment. Among its flagship initiatives : a retirement facility and a citizen’s income for the most modest. But this budget is a concern, as Rome shows, after Greece, the debt ratio (to 131 % of GDP) the highest in the euro area. On the markets, the spread, the difference monitored between the rate on ten-year German and Italian, rose to 317 points, showing a certain nervousness.
If Rome does not alter its budget, the Commission could, by the end of the month, the reject, a situation which has never before happened in the history of the european Union. “If we were to accept everything that (the Italy) offers us, we would have counter-political backlash in other countries of the euro zone,” said Tuesday the president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. But the vice-Prime minister of italy Matteo Salvini has hammered that Rome would not change his copy.
” We are responsible in front of 60 million Italians, not in front of them. The budget will not change a comma. But they do not allow themselves to send a troika or “commissioners”, he launched. Giovanni Tria, a moderate, has, him, pointed out that “the strategy expansive” on the basis of the budget was “not bold” and ” does not put in danger the holding of the public accounts “.
Read also Budget : Rome takes the risk of upsetting Brussels
” there’s a kind of screenwriting by the Italian government to a confrontation with Brussels, which is an obvious election tactic “, before the european elections in may, said Nicolas Véron, an economist with the canadian institutes Bruegel, Brussels and Peterson in the United States, in an interview with the AFP. The coalition is currently at the top in the polls. The League of Mr. Salvini is credited by 30.5% to 33.8% of voting intentions, compared to 17 % in the elections of march, and the M5S Luigi di Maio of 28 % to 30 %, compared to 32.7% in march.
On the same subject In Italy, the authoritarian drift of the government League-M5S