Tue, Dec 18, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Italian coalition agrees on budget figures

Reuters, ROME

Italy’s coalition government has agreed on the “numbers and contents” of the budget that it plans to propose to Brussels in an attempt to avoid disciplinary action over its plans to hike deficit spending next year, a League spokeswoman said yesterday.

The European Commission in October rejected the Italian budget, estimating it would not lower the country’s huge debt and saying it was in breach of EU fiscal rules.

Rome last week submitted a revised plan with a lower deficit.

However, a final deal with Brussels had yet to be reached, and the government sat down on Sunday to hammer out the details of a possible compromise.

“We have found an agreement on additional fiscal reductions that probably will be appreciated by the EU,” League Party leader Matteo Salvini said after the meeting, the ANSA news agency reported.

Time is running out to finalize next year’s budget law, which must be passed by the end of the year. The government meeting lasted more than four hours, but few details were revealed.

Salvini, Five-Star Movement head Luigi di Maio and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte have insisted that any deal with the European executive not interfere with their flagship reforms — income support for the poor and a lower retirement age.

“[There is] total agreement between Conte, Salvini and Di Maio on the numbers and contents of the proposal to send to Brussels,” Salvini’s spokeswoman said as the government meeting neared an end.

The spokeswoman denied tensions within the government and a media report that Conte had threatened to resign.

Also included in the budget are measures to raise taxes on luxury cars to provide incentives for electric and hybrid models, the spokeswoman added.

On Sunday, Di Maio and Salvini had expressed confidence that they could diffuse the conflict with Brussels.

The talks with the commission “will allow us to avoid an infraction procedure,” Di Maio said.

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