EU asks Italy why farmers have not paid €1.4bn superlevy fine
Mediterranean nations are renowned for their relaxed attitude to life but Italian dairy farmers have taken their laid-back approach to a whole new level.
So relaxed are Italy's milk producers, in fact, that they still have not paid a superlevy bill totalling €1.4bn that dates back as far as 1995.
The bill has been paid by the Italian government to Europe but not collected from farmers.
The European Commission has formally given Italy two months' notice to explain to the Commission why the superlevy fine has not been collected from farmers.
In spite of repeated and numerous requests from the Commission, the majority of levies due between 1995 and 2009 have not been recovered.
According to the Commission, the Italian authorities have not taken the appropriate measures to recover the money.
At least €1.42bn is owed by dairy farmers for exceeding the national milk quota.
"This amount needs to be reimbursed to the Italian budget, so that the Italian taxpayers do not lose out," the Commission told Italian officials on Thursday.