Italy Sticks By ‘Pillars’ of Populist Budget In EU Dispute

(Bloomberg) -- Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria insisted Friday that “the pillars” of the populist government’s budget would remain unchanged after he met with Eurogroup President Mario Centeno.

Tria told reporters in Rome that the European Commission’s concerns over the 2019 budget plan “are groundless if you look at the real content,” pledging to continue a dialogue as the government prepares a reply to the commission by next Tuesday’s deadline. He reiterated that the plan would boost economic growth.

To meet European Union demands “we would need extremely violent fiscal tightening, going to a deficit of 0.8 percent, which for an economy that is slowing significantly would be suicide,” Tria said.

Centeno said at the same news conference that for euro-zone members “sharing a common currency implies coordination on policies,” adding he hoped Italy would present a revised proposal.

“I have no doubts on Italy’s commitment to the euro and to sustainable growth,” Centeno said. “It’s essential that the budget demonstrate these commitments.”

The government is locked in a clash with the commission on its budget plans, accusing Brussels of botched analysis over economic forecasts. At the same time a push to deliver on at least part of election promises is sparking near-constant wrangling between deputy premiers Luigi Di Maio of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, and Matteo Salvini of the anti-migrant League.

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