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Italy not keeping its word on budget deficit, EU chief Juncker says

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Paris (dpa) - Italy is breaking its word with plans to hike its budget deficit, and it could put European solidarity at risk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday.

Italy‘s populist government plans to stimulate the economy with a 36.7-billion-euro (42.4-billion-dollar) spending hike in 2019, almost two-thirds of it funded by a higher deficit.

Juncker dismissed claims that the EU was responding too harshly to Rome‘s deficit target of 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), after tolerating a deficit above the bloc‘s 3 per cent target in France for years.

"Since I became head of the Commission, France has never done anything to increase its deficit," Juncker told French newspaper Le Monde in an interview.

Italy‘s indebtedness - currently over 130 per cent of GDP - was much higher than France‘s, he said, adding that France "has always kept its word, even if it was not easy."

"But Italy is not keeping its word," he charged. "Its former government committed to a deficit of 0.8 per cent of GDP in 2019, and the current one is raising it to 2.4 per cent."

EU countries were free to fight poverty, establish a minimum income or change business taxes, Juncker insisted, citing some of the policies of Italy‘s populist coalition parties.

"But they still have to respect the rules so as not to put European solidarity at risk," he warned.

Italy has to send its budget plans to Brussels for approval by midnight Monday. Yields on Italian government bonds have soared in recent days, a sign of declining market confidence.


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(14.12.2018 11:46)

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