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Italy's prime minister calls for reform of EU spending rules

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Italy's prime minister calls for reform of EU spending rules
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte addresses parliament on Monday. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
14:40 CEST+02:00
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called on Monday for reform of European Union rules limiting deficits to 3 percent of gross domestic product, ahead of a parliamentary confidence vote in his new government.

"We also need to improve the Stability and Growth Pact and its application, to simplify the rules, avoid pro-cyclical effects, and support investments," Conte told parliament in reference to rules that restrict European government budgets, including in heavily indebted Italy.

READ ALSO: Italy's new government faces first confidence vote amid protests

The pact was the main problem between Brussels and the previous government in heavily indebted Italy, which must submit a balanced budget to Brussels in the coming weeks.

Otherwise Italy could face an automatic rise in value-added tax on January 1st that would hit the poorest families the hardest and could plunge the country into recession.

Conte's new Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri is also reportedly "not a fan" of the stability pact under which EU members must consistently reduce deficits and target a balanced budget in the long term.

READ ALSO: Who is Roberto Gualtieri, the Brussels insider in charge of Italy's precarious economy?


Photo: Herbert Neubauer/APA/AFP

Italy's colossal public debt currently stands at more than €2.3 billion euros, or 132 percent of GDP, the highest rate in the eurozone after Greece.

Brussels is constantly calling on Rome to reduce its deficit, and thus its debt. The outgoing populist government frequently clashed with the European Commission, mainly over public spending. It eventually agreed to reduce the deficit to 2.04 percent of GDP in 2019, instead of 2.4 percent, but the 2020 budget will again be problematic.

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